Q&A with KS writer Sarah Smarsh on her new Dolly Parton book

Q&A with KS writer Sarah Smarsh on her new Dolly Parton book


The spare, hand-to-mouth world in which Sarah Smarsh grew up in rural Kansas held little room for emotion, or at least emotional display. So, her memory has held tight to the times when she and her Grandma Betty rode down some flat stretch of highway and the older woman would slide a Dolly Parton track into the car’s tape deck. And begin to tear up.

“She’s not a woman I ever saw cry or express any negative feelings or attitudes about her past. For that matter, there wasn’t much discussion of the past at all,” Smarsh says.

“It struck me as quite significant.”

Smarsh was a kid at the time but already forming an understanding of how country music spoke to those in poor rural areas, living one hard day at a time. In the case of Parton, a country icon, that was more than a…



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