Before his death in 2003, Ray Hicks was an unassuming Appalachian icon whose anonymity nearly doomed him to obscurity. Born and raised on Old Beech Mountain near Boone, North Carolina, Hicks gained unlikely celebrity as a storyteller of national renown. Becoming known as the “Keeper of the Jack Tales,” Hicks would share these centuries old fairy tales in his own peculiar Appalachian dialect, using speech patterns reminiscent of our 17th century ancestors. Author Lynn Salsi’s first person narrative documents the oft ridiculed, mostly ignored, and highly misunderstood mountain life that shaped Hicks into the man he was to become. Salsi’s work is a worthy read for anyone interested in the simple, but excruciatingly demanding, Appalachian life that too often found Hicks and his family, in his own words, “up agin’ it.”
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