Deep & Wild: On Mountains, Opossums & Finding Your Way in West Virginia

Winner of the 2023 Nonfiction Prize, Selected by Jenny Boully

US List Price: $19.95

Buy Now

Also available as e-book.

Deep & Wild: On Mountains, Opossums & Finding Your Way in West Virginia

Winner of the 2023 Nonfiction Prize, Selected by Jenny Boully

US List Price: $19.95

Buy Now

Also available as e-book.

About the Book

Deep & Wild is the debut essay collection of Laura Jackson. Jackson, a lifelong West Virginian, employs her knowledge of and curiosity for the region to describe life in West Virginia while dismantling stereotypes portrayed in popular media with humor and tenderness. Jackson works to describe what is special about her home, looking head-on at all the ways life in West Virginia may be wonderful and terrible, beautiful and ugly. Moving beyond all-too-common Appalachian stories of hardship and poverty, Jackson’s collection revels in joy, family, and nature.

Through her essays, Jackson invites readers to peer under creek rocks for crawfish, look a little more fondly at opossums, a road trip to an annual ramp festival, and learn why not to trust a GPS along West Virginia’s rugged roads. From her living room to Appalachian hollows, Jackson approaches the sublime, seeking truths in the removal of a stump from her backyard and in John Denver’s famous song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” As Jackson reflects, “As writers, we know it’s our job, not only to tell our stories, but to tell the stories of those who
came before us, who never had a turn at the microphone.”


Praise for Deep & Wild

Essayistic and investigative, yearning and reaching, Laura Jackson’s Deep & Wild Places lurks in the dark and deep to clutch at treasures beneath. An examination of the self intersected within small unknowns, there is nothing small that is not significant. This is a cultural reckoning and illumination, a compilation of layers of time and place alongside hidden and invisible losses and epiphanies, Jackson writes with the brilliant meanderings of a true essayistic mind, taking her time, leading us into the “deep, dark eyes” of what she witnesses inwardly as we watch.
—Jenny Boully, author of Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life

Laura Jackson’s Deep & Wild stretches beyond the cliches of possums, moonshine, and John Denver’s country roads to fully embrace West Virginia’s contradictions, its beauty, and its wild wonder. Jackson’s essays are hilarious, insightful, and wise, and will have you reading along with a wide grin.
—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic & Desire

In prose reminiscent of writers like Susan Orlean and Annie Dillard, but with a fresh and exuberant voice all her own, Jackson conjures her beloved West Virginia in prose equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching. Jackson shatters Mountain-Dew-hillbilly stereotypes (and takes down fancy-pants-ers like Bette Midler, who spread such Hollywood-centric nonsense on social media) to show the true, complicated, deeply-rooted truth of Appalachia—a place, Jackson writes, “of beauty and misery . . . of people who worship nature and people who tear it apart.” Weaving personal narrative and a whiplash wit with deep research, Jackson brings readers into her world where rage-filled but helpless crawdads, shy rattlesnakes, less-than-bucolic country roads, and, especially, the lowly opossum—a creature, Jackson writes, ”an exhausted God might have thrown together . . . (from) leftover parts”—abide. I would declare, in 2024, that Laura Jackson be dubbed one of the official voices of West Virginia. There is no one writing with so much love, insight, humor, and heart, about this magical place she and so many of us call home.
—Lori Jakiela, author of They Write Your Name on a Grain of Rice: On Cancer, Love, and Living Even So

Laura Jackson is an environmental writer and humorist. A lifelong West Virginian, she holds an MFA from Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in many places, including Terrain, Brevity, Hippocampus, Still, and Bayou Magazine, and she writes regularly for Wonderful West Virginia and West Virginia Living magazines. Laura’s essay, “The Imperfect Aquarist” was […]

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