Sandra Dutton Reads from “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth”

People have asked me why I wrote this story in Appalachian English.   First, I grew up in southern Ohio where many families from Eastern Kentucky lived, and many of them spoke the way Mary Mae speaks.   Her family is from Eastern Kentucky.   It is also the language of many fundamentalist preachers, the ones I heard on the radio, and still hear, when I’m in Southern Ohio or Eastern Kentucky.   

Driftwood at Falls of the Ohio

My choice of language wasn’t something I debated as I worked–it just came–I liked the voice of Mary Mae, and it seemed appropriate for the story.  I enjoyed seeing things through her eyes, especially science.   When her mother insists that the world is only 6000 years old, that the Lord put fossils in the ground as “a test,”  Mary Mae thinks to herself, “But if Mama’s right, the Lord had to mix up a whole lot of dirt all different colors and drop them shells in like nuts in cookie batter.”

I was also influenced by my maternal grandparents, who lived in Springfield, Missouri, and spoke Ozark English, which is similar to Appalachian English.  (For more on this, go to my entry “On Voice.”)

Many people have told me how much they enjoy hearing the story read aloud and have urged me to put an excerpt on my blog, so here it is, a short (one-minute)

Reading from Chapter 7, “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth”.  

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