Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
TL v68n3 Book Review: Gone Dollywood...
Share |


Tennessee Libraries


Volume 68 Issue 3 2018
 TL Home | Archives | Call for Articles | Editorial Board

Book Review

Hoppe, G. (2018). Gone dollywood: Dolly Parton’s mountain dream. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. 154 pages. ISBN: 9780821423233

by Caren Nichter

Caren Nichter is the Government Documents and Music Cataloging Librarian at University of Tennessee at Martin.


Graham Hoppe, a graduate of the folklore program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, uses Dollywood as a center from which to explore ideas about Appalachian culture. Beginning with a succinct history of the Appalachian section of East Tennessee, he shows ways in which stereotypes about the place and its people do not ring true to the reality. Residents are portrayed as “hillbillies,” degrading stereotypes that vilify rather than offer any empathy for the poverty they have historically faced. With obvious and genuine admiration for Dolly Parton, the author gives the reader a brief background of her impoverished childhood, but notes her pride in and loyalty to her home and people. Ms. Parton acknowledges her “Daisy Mae” image, but says, “They portray mountain people [as if] we are all these dumb barefoot hillbillies. I think country people are the smartest people in the world, and I’ve been everywhere” (p.51). He spends some time discussing her music and successes as an entertainer. He also repeatedly remarks on her economic savvy in turning negative stereotypes into positive tourism draws. His admiration for the country singer is always evident in his writing. He seems to have written the book because of his own love for the star and for her physical and cultural home in the Smoky Mountains. Additionally, he notes the many ways Parton has continued to help her home county, most recently by giving personal financial assistance to help victims of the forest fires around Gatlinburg in 2016.

More than just a book about an amusement park, or its celebrity sponsor, this slim volume covers a lot of ground. The reader will learn a bit about other businesses on the Pigeon Forge Parkway and in Gatlinburg, such as Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen restaurant, “moonshine” distilleries, and the Pancake Pantry. Receiving extended attention is the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants. Mr. Hoppe says, “Dollywood brings people to Appalachia and shows them what it thinks they ought to see. Cracker Barrel brings a vague notion of Tennessee to people all over the country” (p. 84). The reader will also learn about the amusement parks that preceded Dollywood in the same location and about the development of tourism in the area.

Although the book is published by an academic press, it is written in a very accessible style. The reader feels an earnest sincerity as the author shares his discoveries. I am a recent Tennessee transplant myself and found the many bits of information about the area and its history to be fascinating. I think this book would be an excellent purchase for public and other libraries in Tennessee, and for anyone with an interest in Appalachia. The book has extensive notes at the end of the text, an index, and a bibliography.


creative commons non-commercial attribution


Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal