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Mountain Medicine: Music and Healing in Frazier’s Nightwoods

Friday from the Archives: “The Hope of “dark-night songs”: Music and Healing in Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods by Paula Rawlins from North Carolina Literary Review Issue 30, 2021

Coming up in NCLR 2023 Winter Online issue is a glance at the ceremony for the better-late-than-never 2020 inductees into the NC Literary Hall of Fame. These five illustrious authors and poets join the pantheon of local literary luminaries: Anthony Abbott, Charles Frazier, Bland Simpson, Max Steele, and Carole Boston Weatherford.

In our 2021 issue, featuring writing towards healing, Paula Rawlins examined the thematic use of music as a healing agent in inductee Charles Frazier’s 2011 novel Nightwoods. Rawlins has “examined Southern novels written across the twentieth century to trace a recurring theme of musical therapeutics, demonstrating how authors attest to the human instinct to self-soothe after trauma by turning to music.”

Her essay looks at both music therapy case studies and literary criticism of Frazier’s novel. In the end, she ably “demonstrates how Nightwoods offers a thoughtful testament to the power of therapeutic practices
long employed in Appalachia and elsewhere.” All of the expressionist therapies–visual art, music, dance, theater, writing–are important healing tools.

Charles Frazier has been in NCLR many times and we look forward to The Trackers, his latest novel, coming out this spring.

Read the essay or the entire 2021 issue on ProQuest or order the issue for your collection.