The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing; Log Cabin Building; Mountain Crafts and Foods; Planting by the Signs; Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing

Eliot Wigginton

Book cover

As someone from Appalachia who’s into DIY stuff, I’m surprised it took me this long to read this book. (Especially since my dad has all of them sitting on his bookshelves.) I loved it, of course. It is in significant part a practical book covering topics ranging from building a log cabin to pickling vegetables, and initially, I felt most excited about learning those things. But although that was cool, it wasn’t what really got me about the book. What really got me was being re-connected to an Appalachian culture that I was lucky enough to have a little connection to when I was a kid, through friends of the family, Ellison and Mary Linda Smyth. The difference extends beyond the crafts and activities. Nature looms large, money plays a different role, people are more tied to places. I think one can get something of value from Foxfire without needing to embrace a back-to-the-land-ism or a romanticized notion of country life (indeed, Foxfire would definitely disabuse you of the latter, though it might kindle the former).

Another thing I enjoyed was the strong “high school” voice that came through in the writing–an exuberance, a teetering balance of confidence and self-consciousness.

Loved the chapter on moonshining, which made me want to build a still. It’s really not that complicated, especially if you’re already brewing beer…

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars