Audiobooks The SongcatcherAuthor Sharyn McCrumb –

This is a boring book The story jumps back and forth between an estranged father and daughter, and one of their ancestors in the mid 1700 s Then it also includes random characters along the hiking trails and tiny towns of the Appalachian mountains At the halfway point of this book, I counted 4 separate story lines, none of them engaging, and there was no hint of how these story lines would be eventually tied together I have permanently shelved the book. Tracing an ancestor back to his roots gave the author some fascinating factual fodder that brightens this book about a search for an old ballad The author s own family stories prove that truth is often stranger than fiction One of the key characters is Malcolm, a member of the author s family tree, who was kidnapped from a beach in the Scottish Isles to work on shipboard when he was less than ten years old On the ship he worked hard but also learned songs, including the fictional one that is the subject of the book Once grown, he left the sea to study law on the dry land of New Jersey, participated in the Revolutionary War, and became a respected pillar of the community At the ripe old age of 50, however, he abandoned his family and career, resettled in the less populated Appalachian Mountains and started a new family, while passing on his songs The book ties together many different eras by weaving together the stories of other family members, some fictional, some real, who passed the song from generation to generation until the present day Along the way readers learn a bit about the way that many traditional ballads were created and gathered by historians, for profit as well as posterity Some of the characters converse with ghosts or act on intuitions so strong they could be labeled precognition, but this isn t a story of the supernatual It is the story of the continuity of family as well as the ghosts of family ties that haunts each of us and quite a good read.Highly respected Appalachian author Sharyn McCrumb s next Ballad novel, King s Mountain, will be published on September 17 2013 by St Martins Press. Haunted By A Memory, Lark McCourry Traces The Passage Of A Song Through Generations Of Her Family, From A Scottish Island Through The Pages Of American History, To The Appalachian Mountains In Western North Carolina As The Memory Of The Song Dims Over The Years, Lark S Only Hope Of Preserving Her Family Legacy Lies In Mountain Wisewoman Nora Bonesteel, Who Talks To The Living And The Dead I read this book for my Celtic Women club s summer book If not for the meeting, I would have ditched it after the first chapter The set up for the book is laudable Singer Lark McCourry wants to locate a song she had heard sung when she was a little girl When she is called back home to see her dying father one last time, she decides to look for the song while she is there In a hurry, she hires a small plane to fly her from a big airport to the small one near her hometown The plane crashes and the pilot dies Lark survives, and while people are looking for her, we are presented with other characters and their histories The only thing they have in common is the song They all have a connection to it Again, the idea is great, but the writing was dull Many times I thought I was reading a report McCrumb writes several pages of just telling the reader about someone For example, when she writes about Lark s ancestor, Malcolm McCourry, she summarizes his actions We headed out a few weeks after the wedding, bound for the high country It would be nice if the author had added details about how they traveled Did they ride horses, walk, go in a wagon pulled by oxen, horses, or mules What possessions did they take with them Though this is just one example of what frustrated me about her writing, she wrote like this throughout the novel She did occasionally toss in a bone of showing the reader what was going on by inserting a dialogue between characters, but even then, a character s words sounded like he she were reading from an encyclopedia How does McCrumb get so much praise for writing like this The characters are boring I felt no emotional connection to any of them They seemed very one dimensional mean or cold or selfish or troubled Every creative writing class I ever took stressed that a writer show rather than tell the reader what s going on so that the reader can participate in the story In other words, create an emotional space for the reader to live within so that the story is emotionally alive to them I don t see McCrumb doing much of this For the historical chapters, she told and told and told I didn t see much story going on there either Anyone could have researched this information and made a report too She filled these chapters with very few historical details It seems a lazy way to write historical fiction I have read many historical fiction novels and the authors are careful to include details that really make the period come alive Finally, I think this novel gives hope to struggling writers It tells them that if they want to be published, they can just write a mediocre story and it can get published People will love it. Someone recommended this, but it probably isn t really my preferred style of book Had a hard time finishing Wavers somewhere between historical fiction and mystery Lark is a country singer who uses the music of her childhood to further her career, but simultaneously is isolated from her aging father and community roots She must find her way back while searching for the lost folk song that is her family s legacy It doesn t sound all that interesting, and it really isn t Quite a few storylines that peter out a little busy what with past and present generations to consider Probably would have been ok beach reading, but it s about a month too late for that. This was the first book in the Ballad series that I ever read actually the first Sharyn McCrumb book in general that I ve read and I just finished re reading it for my bid to read the entire series in order from start to the end.This book made me fall in love with Sharyn McCrumb While it doesn t match the beauty of She Walks These Hills or The Hangman s Beautiful Daughter, I m beginning to think that none can it s still a wonderful work I love how McCrumb takes one historical story and several contemporary plot threads and shows the same themes throughout otherwise unrelated threads In this case, it s the concept of home , or perhaps you can t go home again While you can read each of these as a stand alone, reading this as part of a series helps you appreciate some of the plot threads better especially that of the two deputies and Nora IT was even better on the re read with already knowing the background for some of these characters than when I read it the first time.McCrumb does get a bit preachy in this book than is her usual there s a debate on the proper pronunciation of Appalachian and the types of people who don t conform to the local pronunciation, and several ideas like ballad collecting and then copyrighting being akin to strip mining It s noticeable, but thankfully not very intrusive and rather thought provoking. The Songcatcher by Sharyn McCrumb 2001, 321 pages Subtitled A Ballad Novel , McCrumb s book traces the connections between a traditional ballad and the McCourry family The story begins in 1751 with Malcolm McCourry, a Scot kidnapped as a child, who is later brought to North Carolina The plot alternates between Malcolm s life story and the quest of Lark McCourry, a contemporary country singer, who is trying to track down the ballad she remembers from her childhood Both stories are intriguing and complement each other nicely If you have interest in traditional ballads or Appalachia, you should find plenty here to like. I really enjoy Sharyn McCrumb s books set in the Appalachians I learn something new with each book, about people This story evolves around a song that the first McCourry, a child kidnapped from Scotland in 1759 and who eventually ends up in western North Carolina, remembers There is a story set in the present along with chapters about the family through the centuries A touch of the supernatural gives it an enjoyable edge. This was a good book, but it could have been so much better I was highly motivated to read it I had loved McCrumb s The Hangman s Beautiful Daughter, which was an engrossing, haunting, lyrical tale about a family tragedy and the goings on of a community of people in the hills of Appalachia The Songcatcher has the same setting and it tries to have that same haunting, lyrical style However, I felt that it lacked focus with too many story threads Some of these story threads, taken separately, would make nice short stories or novellas, but they just didn t work well as a novel For instance, I was captivated by the story of Malcolm McCourry, the young 18th century Scottish boy who was kidnapped from his homeland and ended up in America years later His story was well written, engrossing, and tugged at your heart I was sorry when the narrative shifted to his descendants, who were not nearly as interesting More importantly, McCrumb s attempt to use a song to tie together all these people s stories through time didn t work very well Towards the end, when new characters are introduced and the story bounces back and forth between two plane wrecks and a silly, desperate search for the song, things unravel and the story loses energy and focus In addition, the book is poorly titled While there was mention of a songcatcher or two in the narrative, the book was not at all about a songcatcher songcatchers were people, usually musicians or ethnomusicologists, who traveled around remote areas to record and capture folk songs that are being handed down orally from generation to generation In an Afterword, you learn that several of the central characters of the book were real, and that in fact, they were McCrumb s ancestors, and that was neat There is a lot of heart in these stories But as a novel, it just doesn t hold together very well. One of the best things about the Appalachian region is it s rich history of music You can hear the scotch irish melodies woven through many of the songs which were not even written down until a couple of decades ago Sharyn McCrumb s story captures the beauty of the mountains, its colorful inhabitants and folklore I live in these mountains and you can find music in almost any place you look any night of the week This is one of the best books I ve read about this amazing place certainly one of McCrumb s best.