Scott Brown
November 17, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Coalwood Way

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Homer Hickam
publisher
Random House
genre
Memoir, Nonfiction, Science and Technology

We gave it a B

Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam’s first memoir (the inspiration for the movie October Sky), was a story of American endeavor that verged on parable: The sons of West Virginia coal miners earnestly turn their trajectories skyward, spurred by Sputnik to build homemade rockets and launch themselves out of a quaint but collapsing way of life. Of course, it’s never that simple, and in this follow-up, The Coalwood Way: A Memoir, Hickam explains why — sort of. The former NASA engineer touches on the more gothic aspects of his Appalachian childhood (social ostracism, class warfare), but never strays far from homily, even in the face of murder and the barely noted spectre of racism. Luckily, Hickam’s keen attention to factual detail (he is a rocket scientist, after all) keeps the book on course. B

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