November 21, 2012

Points East: His work is pure Appalachia

By Ike Adams

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I’m not sure why the day after Thanks-giving is called Black Friday, but I assume that it has something to do with black ink that merchants will use on their profit and loss calculations for sales at the end of the day because it marks the unofficial opening of the Christmas shopping season.  

 I won’t be making Friday any blacker. I will be at home reading. However,  Loretta and my girls will almost surely be spending most of the day standing in check out lines at every department and specialty store in central Kentucky, but I sincerely hope they are not shopping for me. I have made it abundantly clear that the best thing, in fact the only thing, I want and will make use of, is a gift certificate to  

 I will use said certificate to purchase books that I will download to the Amazon Kindle that Loretta gave me three years ago and which has turned out to be the most used Christmas gift I’ve ever received.  

In fact, if you have an avid reader on your shopping list for whom you are considering spending $100, you might consider giving a Kindle.  Actually, the cheapest one can be had for less than $70, and that’s what I have.  When Loretta got it for me, it was top of the line and cost twice that but it’s still plenty good enough for me even though there are far fancier versions  now.

 However, there’s some excellent reading out there that simply can’t be put on a Kindle or any other e-reader.  

 For example, I just polished off two very excellent new pieces of fiction written by my good friend and fellow Letcher County native, Jim Cornett, who has lived in Burnside, Ky., since 1982.  Some of you readers may recall that I touted, here in the column, about three years ago,  Jim’s first work of fiction entitled The Frog Farm, which he did after writing and self-publishing  more than  20 documentaries pertaining to Appalachia.

 The book, published in 2005, was so well-received that he wrote a sequel, Return to Frog Farm, published in 2010.  Now the ink is barely dry on his third fictional work entitled Up on the Mountain; Down in the Valley.   I’ve just finished reading these last two and I’ve seldom been as royally entertained as Jim Cornett’s writing does for me.  In all three cases, as I neared the last page, I’ve thought to myself, “oh please don’t end so soon.”  

 It’s difficult to describe Jim’s style but I would call it pure, un-distilled Appalachia.  Readers will be reminded of, among others, Jesse Stuart, Jan Watson and John Fox Jr.   All three books are set in the hills of Kentucky, wryly humorous, happy-ending love stories.  Readers can simply kick back and enjoy an easy, entertaining  ride with plenty to smile about along the way.  

 But don’t expect slick covers and fancy art work.  Jim is about the ultimate in self publishing.  He writes on 8.5 x 11 inch white paper and his wife, Janice Jewel, helps him proofread it at least a dozen times.  Once they are satisfied with the manuscript, he heads to Office Depot to have it printed. He makes his own covers from card-stock, punches the holes himself and then puts the documents in a spiral binder, one at a time.    

 Jim sells most of his books at fairs and festivals throughout south and eastern Kentucky and through direct mail.  His market scheme is largely word of mouth and the occasional review by folks like me. I am, personally, very proud to help him out.   

 All three fictional titles are priced at $7.50 each, including postage, and would make excellent Christmas presents for anybody who loves good Appalachian fiction.

 You can order copies and/or obtain a price list for his other work by sending a check for whichever books you want  to:  Jim Cornett, P.O. Box 336, Burnside, KY 42519.

 If you want more information, you can email him at: or call him at 606-219-8302 or 606-561-5620.