James Still’s novel “River of Earth”, published in 1940, is the story of a Kentucky family and their lives divided between the coal mines and their family farm land. A seven year old boy narrates the story.
Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” and Carson McCullers' "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" were published this year as well.
I suppose when it came out, folks felt weary of the literature of hard times. Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” came out in ‘39 and the John Huston film with Henry Fonda hit the screens in 1940. Faulkner’s books were popular by 1940. World War II changed the south in many ways.
Recently, I read C.E. Morgan’s debut novel called “All the Living”(2009), a story that takes place on a Kentucky farm. I listened to an interview she gave last month on the University of Kentucky public radio station. She mentioned her favorite current writer, Cormac McCarthy, and her all-time favorite, Ernest Hemingway. She named quite a few influences including Shakespeare. But she did not mention James Still.