Reading about the Smokies

What books would you recommend for a  group coming to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time? When I go to a new place, I like to read a couple of novels that give me a feel for the place, along with the guidebooks and field guides.

Elk in Cataloochee1.  Serena by Ron Rash. In 1929, Serena and George come to the Smoky Mountains to establish a timber empire. Serena is the ultimate Lady Macbeth, who with George, goes out to ruin everyone who stand in their way. The logging camp is supposed to be inspired by Smokemont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Serena was made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence, which is supposed to come out this year. Ron Rash is the premiere Southern Appalachian writer, now world-famous. I have read every novel he’s written and I’m eagerly waiting for the next one.

Cabin in Little Cataloochee
Cabin in Little Cataloochee

2.  Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell. Caldwell’s ancestors lived in Cataloochee, an active community before it was incorporated into the park. But even in this paradise, there was feuding, ambition and dissent. But no problem is as important than the rumblings that the Federal Government is going to turn the area into a national park and the residents were going to be bought out. Caldwell is a protege of Charles Frazier, of Cold Mountain fame.

3. Requiem by Fire by Wayne Caldwell. This is the sequel to Cataloochee. What does happen when the residents have to more out of Cataloochee?

Of course, there are so many good Southern Appalachian writers: Charles Frazier, Lee Smith, Sharyn McCrumb, Jan Karon, even Thomas Wolfe though he’s a challenge to get through.

But the three novels above are set in what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park. So read those and I’ll give you some more later.


One thought on “Reading about the Smokies

  1. Wayne Caldwell’s novels are excellent. They gave me a whole new perspective on the Cataloochee area. As I walked through the valley I felt pangs of sadness for the people that once lived there.

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