||Dec 1, 2002
West Virginia is the only state that lies entirely within the vast Appalachian Region. Many think of West Virginia today, however, not as a separate state, but merely the Western part of Virginia. May I say that we, too, like the other forty-nine, have our own separate identity. Just as there is a North Dakota and South Dakota, a North Carolina and South Carolina, rest assured there is a Virginia and West Virginia. This book depicts a rural "West Virginia" Appalachian boyhood of the 1940s-50s, and it's bound to touch the heart.
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Inspired by his desire to share his Appalachian boyhood with future generations, David Lee Thompson has written a series of stories, depicting his life in Bowen Creek, West Virginia, during the 1940s and '50s. With a trip out West providing the backdrop, the author weaves story after story into a nostalgic piece of work, portraying life as he experienced it, in the heart of Appalachia. One of these, "A Framework for Happiness," was published in a book entitled Life Writing Class. Now, in River of Memories, the author shares more humorous and heartwarming tales, with vivid accounts of everyday life. From his birth in a "tater-knobbed" house to his stint in the Vietnam War, Thompson's journey from boyhood to manhood displays his strong ties to the Appalachian culture. As Dr. Alan B. Gould of Marshall University states, "The author's recollections of a bygone era not only produces a 'river of memories' for himself, but provides the reader with warm and colorful insights into the customs, habits, and traditions of the Appalachian way of life."
This memoir is dedicated to my mother and father--Jack and Marie Thompson--whose house now stands empty and lonely, its walls containing only faint whispers of what was once alive with laughter and reminiscences on Sunday afternoons. They taught us love, honesty, morality, and compassion for our fellow man, but above all, they taught us the importance of being faithful to God by example of their goodness. I miss what we once shared in our house on Bowen Creek--that is gone--but nothing can erase the river of memories that flood my soul. Those are eternal.
"David Lee Thompson has produced a caring and introspective personal account of the vanishing Appalachian culture. This way of life existed for over twelve generations, teaching its people the importance of family, community, and religion. Thompson's old home place, 'now empty and lonely,' holds 'faint whispers of what was once alive with laughter and reminiscences.' His boyhood memories of life on Bowen Creek represent the last vestiges of a time and place now nearly extinct." Dr. Alan B Gould, Executive Director, The John Deaver Drinko Academy, Marshall University
"From the first pioneers who struggled west to make a home among our hills and hollows, our families have been our culture's backbone. The portrait of Appalachian life David Thompson paints is one familiar to generations of southern West Virginians. It is a history that should be saved and valued." U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (WV)
"As readers journey along in David Thompson's River of Memories, they uncover truths about themselves and gain a better understanding about life in Appalachia. This is especially true for those of us who have strong ties with its people, helping us appreciate our heritage even more." Shawn W. Coffman, M.D., Huntington Internal Medicine Group, Huntington, West Virginia
Gold Medal Awards - American Authors Association
Billions of years before planet Earth was spoken into existence—as many years ago as one followed by a hundred zeros and before that—God knew about me. He knew the exact millennium—even the split second—I would make my entrance into the world. The date He chose was December 1, 1943. God knew my hair would be stubborn and brown, and He chose hazel coloring for my eyes. Just as He knows how many droplets of water it takes to fill all the rivers and their tributaries at any given time, He knew the exact number of hairs I would have on every square inch of my head, on the ring finger of my left hand, and both big toes. God was aware—billions of years ago—of all my physical and mental idiosyncrasies that make me distinctive as an individual. His knowledge, awareness, and understanding of me have been complete and unlimited throughout eternity. Nothing about me has escaped Him.
Military Writers Society of America Book Review
MWSA Book Review
River of Memories – An Appalachian Boyhood
Author: David Lee Thompson
Reviewer: Bill McDonald – President of the MWSA
There once was actually a time and a place that the author David Thompson talks about; but I used to think that it was only in our collective dreams from the old movies of the 1950’s. He captures a part of Americana that is forever lost and is no more. He takes us through his early life leading up to his tour in Vietnam much like a river flowing through our heart. It is a well written account of not just what it was like but how it felt to be a young boy of the “Baby Boom Generation” in West Virginia.
This book is not about war or its aftermath but about the human spirit and the values that make us and define who we are. This is a treasure of unique experiences and feelings. It is a pleasure and a joy to read.
International War Veterans' Poetry Archives Review
Webmaster's Note: After reading David's book, and having communicated with him several times, I have found a new friend, and a book that is among the top ten of my favourite non-fiction books.
I laughed out loud (to the bemusement and ammusement of my wife) felt sadness and empathy, and re-lived the life of a boy in the Appalachian region of America... and this despite being Australian and never having had the opportunity of visiting that region of America.
Perhaps my reaction may have something to do with the fact that I'm also a river boy... born and bred on the banks of the River Murray in a little town called Mannum in South Australia, but I rather think it's because David has written a book that is lovingly and without apology, a reflection and reminder of love, family, and the times of childhood growth.
Read the book... it's a bluddy beauty!
Anthony W. Pahl, OAM
February 8, 2006
Book Review - Book of the Month - American Author Association - Bill McDonald, President
I fully enjoyed getting an inside peek at a life so much different than my own in California when I was growing up. The author, David Lee Thompson, took me emotionally on a journey of the heart - to a time and place so innocent and simple that I felt I had missed something very important in my own childhood. The life he shares about Bowen Creek, West Virginia, in the 1940s and '50s, made me wonder how his going to Vietnam must have been so hard and vile for his very soul. It must have been a difficult thing for his youthful self to see a world so opposite from the life he had before. The contrasting worlds could not be any further apart emotionally or spiritually. It was like his youthful Appalachian innocence became a victim to the harsh reality of that war. He survived, but one wonders what long-term effect it had on his outlook on life. I was left wanting to read the next chapter in David's life and find out what he is doing and thinking now. This book is a nostalgic and loving look at a life that is no more - a time that few have been privileged to personally ever know. When you read his stories, you can just picture yourself running along a creek or fishing with him. The stories are written in a style that embraces your senses and inner imagination. You will find yourself transported to his time and place, and you will feel like you have lived a part of his life with him. It is as if you, the reader, were along with the author and sharing his adventures. This is a must-read book, and the American Author's Association gives it a 5-star rating. It has also been nominated for a 2004 AAA Gold Book Award by the AAA Book Award Committee.
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Reader Reviews for "River of Memories: An Appalachian Boyhood"
|Reviewed by Diana Wiles
|I just can't wait to read this...!!!
It sounds simply amazing...just my kind of book..
|Reviewed by Mike Coatesworth
|Now this is my type of novel, I am a great fan of Tom Sawyer etc, as of most of Mark Twain's work. You are never too old to write! David, please let me know how I order a copy, as this is one novel that I want to read and proudly have in my collection!|
David Lee Thompson