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"The best novel so far by a writer whose growth has been steady and sure . . . . [Oral History] tells the story of the Cantrell family and the odd curse that its members believe to have hung over them. It is a tale that begins in the late 19th century with Granny Younger, the midwife, and continues well into the 20th century through several generations of Cantrells; it is also a tale deeply rooted in the folk culture of the Appalachians, a tale that in the best tradition of folklore contains 'story upon story.'" -- The Washington Post Book World
"A novel as dark, winding, complicated as the hill country itself. . . You could make comparisons to Faulkner and Carson McCullers, to The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Wuthering Heights. You could employ all those familiar ringing terms of praise: 'rare,' 'brilliant,' 'unforgettable.' But Lee Smith and Oral History make you wish all those phrases were fresh and new, that all those comparisons had never before been made. For this is a novel deserving of unique praise." -- The Village Voice
"Deft and assured . . . She is clearly drunk on the language of Appalachia, on its stories and its people . . . . She is nothing less than masterly." -- The New York Times Book Review