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John Hartford introduced me to The New Yorker magazine in the mid-1990s. “I need to get you a subscription to The New Yorker,” he told me several times. John had become familiar with the magazine as a youth. His parents were regular subscribers to the magazine; they encouraged him to read it because, they said, it contained the absolute best writing available. John told this story several times and I could tell by the way he retold it that he believed it to be true. In fact, after reading multiple issues (mostly John’s issues at the house, but also complimentary issues I spotted in medical offices), I agreed that, yes, The New Yorker did in fact contain the best writing available. Once I discovered Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, unquestionably the greatest true crime book ever written, and learned The New Yorker had frequently printed Capote’s writing, my love for the magazine became unshakable. For these reasons, and others, I am delighted to have made a small contribution to Larissa MacFarquhar’s story, “In the Heart of Trump Country,” published by The New Yorker on October 10, 2016. The opportunity to contribute to a New Yorker story, much less to appear in The New Yorker, is an honor.

You can read Larissa’s exceptionally well-composed piece by following this link:


Prior to the story, Larissa approached me (and other locals) about her desire to write a piece at least partly involving recent political developments in Logan County, West Virginia. I agreed to assist Larissa in whatever way I could for several reasons: I wanted to welcome her to my section of Appalachia, I wanted to be helpful, I wanted her story to succeed, I wanted her readers to better understand my region, I’m always anxious to discuss my region’s rich history… Larissa and I corresponded via email about general political history in Logan County, then enjoyed a memorable two-and-a-half-hour conversation at 317 Steak House in Logan. I liked her right away. I like her more after reading her story.

Larissa is an accomplished professional writer. You can read more about her impressive credentials by following these links:




It was likewise pleasurable to meet photographer Alec Soth and his assistant, Galen Fletcher, who visited Logan, Chapmanville, Ferrellsburg, and Harts Creek, in order to capture images pertinent to Larissa’s story. Alec took a few photos of me in Ferrellsburg, one of which ultimately appeared in the story, then spent a hot evening taking a ton of photos at one of my favorite Harts Creek cemeteries (the Anthony Adams Family Cemetery) and a nearby historic log cabin (Squire Sol Adams residence).

You can find out more about Alec by following these links:



He even has a Wikipedia entry!


These were nice folks. If they ever visit your part of the world, welcome them.