Remembering Bob Sloan

Appalachian author Bob Sloan – a passionate voice for protecting the land and culture from the destruction of mountaintop removal – died on April 17. He was 65 years old.

“He was a fine ally and fine company, so it’s a double loss,” said Wendell Berry, whose invitation to a Kentucky Authors mountaintop removal tour with KFTC in 2005 provided Bob with the experience that fueled his commitment to stopping the destruction.

“This has been a life-changing experience for me. I keep going back and forth between rage and wanting to cry,” Bob said after listening to the stories of eastern Kentucky residents and flying over Perry County.

He put those strong emotions onto his writing.

“If you love a place, you don't allow it to be poisoned and polluted, gouged and leveled,” Bob wrote in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader a week after the tour. “If you love Kentucky you'll get involved in stopping mountaintop removal.”

Bob wrote numerous other articles on this topic, including a piece for the book Missing Mountains and a more in-depth article for the Earth Island Journal.

“Bob had a deep affection for the hills and hollers that had nurtured his family for generations. When he learned that mining companies were blowing up mountains and dumping the earth they had spoiled into streams, he was overcome with righteous indignation," recalled George Brosi, editor of Appalachian Heritage, a literary quarterly that published Bob's short stories.

Bob was quick to accept any invitation to come talk about mountaintop removal, and traveled throughout Kentucky to do so. He also participated in several authors events sponsored by KFTC.

"He joined KFTC and embarked upon a crusade to build awareness and opposition to the practice, speaking to any group, no matter how small and remote," Brosi added. "Bob’s spirit lives on in our lives and our commitments to the future of the mountains."

Bob was slowed in recent years by a series of serious illnesses. He died at home in Morehead, on the farm where his grandparents and later his parents lived. He is survived by Julie, his wife, a son and a stepson.

Bob’s other published works include two novels, a collection of short stories and numerous articles and commentary in various other media. Bob was a guest columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader; his commentaries have been on radio and television including National Public Radio and CSPAN's Book TV. Many of this writings can be found at bobsloansampler.com.

Dan Conti, with Morehead State University, did a nice tribute to Bob that can be found here.

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Comments

Thank you.

There I was, working hard on a roawing machine in a heart rehab facility in Southern California when the guy next to me began talking about a really good Kentucky author he had read.  It was Bob Sloan.  As another writer writer about Kentucky, I enjoyed Bob's "Home Call." I am acquainted with Wendell Berry and swap letters with him, but was not familiar with Sloan.  I am glad I found his book.  My books also involve the KKK and now there are places in Kentucky where I do not go.  I suspect Bob has the same problems.  My great grandfather was murdered by the KKK in 1874 in Owen County. It is clear that Bob Sloan knows his subject and demonstrates great skills in telling his story.  I am sorry that I did not get to know him.

Thank you.  He published 3 books in all (Home Call; Nobody Knows, Nobody Sees; and Bearskin to Holly Fork: Stories of Appalachia), plus contributed to 2 collaborations (Missing Mountains; and Kentucky Authors Cook).  Bob's website, http://bobsloansampler.com/ has more of his writing.  It's been almost 4 months now.  I miss him an awful lot. 

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