Fact, Fiction And Perception About Rural TennesseeAugust 26, 2012 - Author: newscoma - Comments are closed
If there is one thing that author Stephen King does well is that he understands societal issues, both good and bad, in small towns. From Salems Lot to Under The Dome to IT and the compelling 11.22.63, each of his towns breathe and in many ways are very realistic if you can get past the villains. It’s fiction, but there is some excellent commentary in these novels.
He seems to understand the balance between secrets that are dark and hidden to the reality and that there is simple joy of living in rural areas. Family, bike runs for friends who are ill, church, friends at the bar, festivals or sitting around the kitchen table (which happens everywhere) are important. It’s part of being part of a community. Of course with King, there is always going to be the boogie man hiding under the bed, but I’m not talking about that here. He gets the small intimacies of rural America.
I also think, and I’ve written about this before, there is a romance about small towns and a grit to be admired for those who aren’t judging small towns for the sake of judging them.
Last year, Ronnie Dunn recorded a song called “Cost of Living” that became a hit last year. It was written by a man named Phillip Coleman, who is from Obion County, and Dunn himself telling the story of a dying town that has no job and a seemingly tired man just looking for a shot. I have no idea why I connected King and Dunn, but it seems right. There is real horror sometimes of not knowing where the next mortgage is going to come from. I own it, I get all dusty every time I hear that song and see those folks from Goodyear in the video.
One thing on moving to Nashville is I still find myself talking about rural America. I was never as surprised to hear more than once that some folks don’t care or even want to take the time for a conversation to get it. That bothers me. That rural towns will literally vanish if infrastructure isn’t in place. Schools are community anchors. That there are some delightfully wonderful people who are watching what is happening in Nashville and Washington. And when I heard from two different people recently some condescending things about rural voters, it got me thinking and then it pissed me off. And I’m pretty sure my examples above may seem odd but they work.
That the jobs are invisible to rural Tennesseans doesn’t mean that they still aren’t looking. For every five losses of viable employment, there has been some gain but still not enough to employ everyone.
I guess my question is that there is as much validation in small less populated areas as there is any larger areas. When did we use snippers to eliminate certain voices that might be allies? There are allies if people will listen and just quit talking at them.
And this is every home town that I always lovingly called Hoots. I’m not making the place a hero, it’s not, I’m just saying benches could be built. If you don’t believe me, just ask.
Now you may be inquiring why I’m even comparing King and Dunn to small towns? I can answer that. They have a large audience and King tends to focus on a lot of good as well as his tales of things lurking in the shadows. Dunn’s commentary on the fatigue occurring for people desperately looking to make a living after years of putting in their time is more than accurate. Willie Nelson didn’t start Farm Aid for nothing, my friends, and now farms are corporate beasts. You think it’s just Wall Street, it’s not.
You probably aren’t going to listen to me but the fictional accounts have a lot of truth in them and that’s why I brought it up. There isn’t anything I can do about Washington but vote with my conscience, but there is a lot we can all do in Tennessee.