Robert Morgan is a native of North Carolina and an accomplished author and poet. In Gap Creek (1999), he describes the daily life of Julie and Hank Harmon, a young couple struggling through the hardships of their first year of marriage in rural Gap Creek, South Carolina around 1800.
From the natural hazards of fire, flood, and ice storms to the demands of a crotchety landlord, to economic uncertainty, and the joys and disappointments of family life, Julie narrates their struggle to care for themselves and others during an endless stream of misfortune. Their unwavering strength in the face of adversity puts our modern challenges into perspective.
Dwight Garner had this to say in The New York Times Books section:
“Robert Morgan teaches at Cornell University, in upstate New York, but he’s a son of Appalachia — specifically the densely wooded mountains along the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, where almost all his fiction is set. Morgan is a voracious student of rural life in the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, and his books are crammed with the minutiae of daily life, so much so that you can almost take them into the woods in place of a survival manual. His novels — The Hinterlands” (1994), ”The Truest Pleasure” (1995) and now ”Gap Creek” — contain more raw information about how to scratch together an existence on an isolated, electricity-free farm than all the back issues of Country Living combined. You may think you couldn’t care less about how to, say, build a road, or render lard, or suck the venom from a snakebite, or pluck and singe a wild turkey or lay a body out for burial. But in Morgan’s hands these details become the stuff of stern, gripping drama; you’re as hooked, and frequently you’re as horrified, as if you were reading the final pages of Robert Falcon Scott’s journals.”