Following the New River North
By Noah Adams
(Delta, Paperback, 9780385320139, 256pp.)
Publication Date: March 26, 2002
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With his sharp eye and gentle wit, Noah Adams doesn't just tell stories, he lets them unfold quietly, powerfully, and eloquently. Now the beloved host of NPR's All Things Considered and bestselling author of Piano Lessons takes us on a river journey through the heart of Appalachia--a journey shared by pioneers and preachers, white-water daredevils, bluegrass musicians, and an unforgettable cast of vivid historical characters.
Noah Adams has Appalachia in his blood. A native of eastern Kentucky, he comes to the headwaters of the New River not just in search of adventure but to better understand his own unique heritage. Following the New River from its mile-high source on North Carolina's Snake Mountain to its West Virginia mouth, Adams travels by Jeep and by bicycle, by foot and, most thrillingly, by white-water raft to explore the history, natural beauty, and fascinating characters waiting around every bend and turn.
Distilling history from legend, Adams tells of men and women whose lives crossed the New River before him: Daniel Boone, fleeing his farming family in search of wilderness; Cherokee Indians driven west on their Trail of Tears; and the ill-fated men who traveled thousands of miles to work on the Hawk's Nest Tunnel, making a fortune for a company while their lungs filled with deadly silica dust. And along the way Adams follows the echoes of his own distant heritage, interweaving his river journey through Appalachia with yet another voyage, thousands of miles away.
With eloquence and compassion, Noah Adams paints a luminous portrait of a land and a people as richly vital and complex as America itself. At the same time, his quietly personal chronicle captures the sheer magic of the flowing waters: their sound, their eddies, their utter unpredictability. A vibrant and unforgettable read, Far Appalachia mesmerizes and haunts like the bluegrass music that still rings through the mountains and valleys in which it was born.
Noah Adams is a co-host of NPR's All Things Considered. He lives with his wife, Neenah Ellis, a freelance journalist, in Takoma Park, Maryland.
"The host of NPR's All Things Considered now takes readers on another year-long journey, this time through Appalachia -- by canoe, bicycle and white-water raft.. He skims lightly over the depths and navigates the rapids with humor and a sharp eye for telling detail."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Far Appalachia is a lyrical journey through the heart of the mountain South. It is a New River voyage through time and memory penned by a gifted son of Appalachia who -- with the best of us -- has both wings and roots."
-- Sharyn McCrumb, author of The Songcatcher
Praise for Noah Adams's Piano Lessons:
"Charming ... his delight in music-making is palpable."
-- The New Yorker
"[A] charming memoir -- Adams clearly possesses a gift that too many teachers don't -- the ability to convey just how much fun it is to make music, and just how many different ways there are for a piece of music to be beautiful."
"Entertaining and surprising detail -- Piano Lessons will make you a believer in the quest to find and make music and will have you falling back in love with your own dreams, whatever they may be."
-- John Hockenberry, correspondent, ABC News, author of Moving Violations
"An affectionate tribute ... [from] a writer of considerable merit."
--The Seattle Times
"A truly absorbing story ... with humor and candor ... Adams is a gifted interviewer with a good ear for a story, and Piano Lessons is full of them."
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Genuinely moving ... Adams writes in the same earnest ... tone that has endeared him to radio listeners for more than twenty years."
-- San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
"The balance of storytelling -- about pianos specifically, and then into music in general and back again -- rings nicely, with plenty of pushed pedals to sustain it."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is a wonderful book, which has a generous, transcendental beauty. The fascination of the river journey lies, for me, in the small details, which refresh and stir the reader like the smell of coffee by a campfire in the morning. I bet I won't be the only reader to be reminded of Thoreau."
-- Jonathan Kozol , author of Amazing Grace