Feedback from readers of my books.

Here's a compilation of reader reviews and comments.


* Yuri in New York about "The Spine of the Virginias"

I have been reading Michael Abraham’s collection of interviews, “THE SPINE OF THE VIRGINIAS” in tandem with reading COLD MOUNTAIN, by Charles Frazier. They each, in far different manner, render the history, culture , physical geography and toll of human conflict on the native species and immigrant inhabitants of Appalachia. Frazier’s novel draws you into the reality of western North Carolina residents during the late Civil War through the vernacular of his novel’s narrative which frames the profound struggle of the characters as they weather the plot. Abraham pursues an anthropological travelogue that is much like reading an extended series of features in an independent regional newspaper you might read in daily installments for a month as you ride a bike tour through the counties along the Virginia & West Virginia border. In a very different manner, both works land us in a similar point of the same historical narrative and, similar critical observation on the extended reality of western industrial civilization (sic) as revealed in its execution over the past 200 years in the Southern Appalachian region.
Abraham starts by introducing us to the unique history of West Virginia’s Civil War secession from Virginia and travels chronologically and geographically from north to south, much like the long walk of Frazier’s protagonist Ingman from Virginia to Cold Mountain, North Carolina reveals the internalized impact of congressional politics, imperial economics and industrialism on non-elite Americans.
Abraham arrives at his journey’s illustrative pivot almost smack dab in the middle of his text, in what he terms the “Lumbar” area of Greenbrier County, West Virginia, as articulated by BJ Gudmundsson, “Our coal severance tax barely repairs the damage of what the[(coal)] industry leaves behind. The schools are hurting. The roads are full of potholes. The drinking water is poison. We need to have people in government who will admit that we are glad to have all the money that coal has brought us over the years, but we need to chart a new course for the future…..We have outsourced our manufacturing economy to the developing world. I think this is a tremendous mistake, and will come back to bite us. We live in a country that is unable [to reclaim our glory( if)]. We don’t have the spine to take it back.”
Frazier, following the classic plot organization taught in middle and high school English class, delivers his characters’ common wisdom, uncommon and almost lost in our time, just prior to the novel’s Climax:
“Do you remember that song of your father’s about the mole in the ground?
Ruby said that she did, and Ada asked if Ruby thought Stobrod had written the song. Ruby said there were many songs that you could not say anybody in particular made by himself. A song went around from fiddler to fiddler and each one added something and took something away so that in time the song became a different thing from what it had been, barely recognizable in either tune or lyric. But you could not say the song had been improved, for as was true of all human effort, there was never advancement. Everything added meant something lost, and about as often as not the thing lost was preferable to the thing gained, so that over time we’d be lucky if we just broke even. Any thought otherwise was empty pride.”
I can recommend the reading chronologically of Frazier’s novel and Abraham’s travelogue, or if one prefers, reading in tandem, as a worthwhile endeavor while awaiting another Appalachian Spring.


* Bill in Blacksburg, Virginia about "Providence, VA"

I wanted to let you know that I finished "Providence, VA" a few weeks ago and enjoyed it very much! Also, I was sorry that the book had come to an end, because I grew to care for the characters, and I wanted to know what happened to them next. Of course that's the mark of a "good read".


* Ibby in Rocky Mount, Virginia about "Providence, VA"

(Note: This review of Providence, VA was written by Ibby Greer in Rocky Mount, Virginia and posted on Facebook. A similar review is on

“Providence, VA, a novel of inner strength found in adversity,” by Michael Abraham. Pocahontas Press. 2012. ISBN 0-926487-63-9.

Journey Through Dystopia: A Review by Elizabeth T. Greer

“Reisen,” German for “to travel, to journey”…It cannot be b
y chance that Samantha Reisinger, heroine of Michael Abraham’s riveting novel, “Providence, VA,” has that verb as the very root of her name. A privileged and naive “Jewish Princess” from New Jersey, an accomplished classical violinist used to a charming second home and a horse with which she trains in Dressage, access to the cultural riches of NYC, and a highly successful father at Goldman Sachs, this 17-year-old product of the glittery Northeast Corridor travels to Galax, VA, for the annual Fiddlers’ Convention in the hills of rural SW Virginia to hear Bluegrass on fiddles. Bluegrass lyrics, homespun folk songs, classics for violin, and even three of Vivaldi’s “Seasons” enrich the texture of this episodic novel, of life after the Grid goes down. Darkness, despair, courage, integrity, horror, and knowledge describe this story.

With an occasional subtle tip of the hat to another fantastic American novel of surprise, survival, and friendship, Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Abraham has this Dorothy also dropped into a new kind of world because of a natural disaster, an electromagnetic “Pulse,” and struggle to find her way home, with music at the heart of the journey. Where Dorothy’s world went from black and white (in the film) to full color in Oz, Sammy’s world goes from full color to complete darkness…lit by a moon or flashlight. Like Dorothy, Sammy encounters, one by one, a diverse new set of friends, some local and some imports, like herself. Some of the characters are professors, allowing them to explain what is happening with the effects of the Pulse.

Black, White, Pentecostal, Native American, Jew, rural folks, musicians, urban elites, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Dartmouth, Oxford Univ., and Winston-Salem play a part in this novel. Slavery, the Holocaust, folklore, and the Rapture are woven into the journey and stories of survival. The story unfolds quickly, and this reader could not put it down. I was familiar with every place, historical reference, school, and religion portrayed. That enhanced my appreciation for the depth and intensity of this novel.

Michael Abraham, author of books about the Crooked Road Music Trail and motorcycling over the region’s back roads, is a resident of Blacksburg, VA, (home of Virginia Tech) He is able to share his vast knowledge of the rural culture, musical traditions, history, and topography of the region around Galax (notably Fries, Independence, Elk Creek, Roanoke, and the New River), all in the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains. The point-of-view, that of an innocent Jewish girl surrounded by people of faith, agnostics, atheists, and a New Age herbalist, lets the author explore this nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and show the similarities and differences of people’s belief systems, especially how they are used and are helpful, or not, under terrible community stress.

Midwifery, carpentry, hydraulic engineering, mechanics, radio and camera technology, food preservation, and transportation are just a few of the skills that Abraham weaves into the story through the articulate and patient characters who try to make the best of disaster. Some of the “speeches” that occur when someone answers a question, usually one asked by the bright and curious protagonist, Sammy, seem a little pedagogical. Yet, the knowledge comes forth clearly and propels this amazing saga along to a satisfying finale.

I may have been present, in Galax 2011, when the seeds of this novel started to sprout. I was seated next to Michael and a young woman classical violinist from somewhere “up North,” while Roger Sprung [NY/CT Bluegrass banjo player] and Fred Swedberg jammed with Barbara and Frank Shaw [CT] of “Shoregrass Bluegrass. Michael Abraham, will there be an “Encore”? Bravo! Bravo, Michael Abraham. I have not read a book this enthralling for years. More. More. And, thank you. Wow.



* Hope from Fries, Virginia, about "Providence, VA"

"Finished Providence, VA about 6 pm Sunday.  Couldn't put it down! Enjoyed it and congratulations to you!  Last night I started The Spine and am already as fascinated with this historical book.  You are a born AUTHOR! and what a vocabulary!"

(Note: Hope is in the credits for Providence, VA, as she helped me understand the history of Fries. She had her 88th birthday last Friday when I visited her and got her the two books.)


* John in Pennsylvania about "Harmonic Highways"

I just finished Harmonic Highways and just wanted to say what a great read it was. As a fellow biker, I was able to appreciate your descripions of your ride with Mae and you provided a vivid picture of your adventures. As someone that is a transplant from PA, you introduced me to the rich history of Southwest VA. I just bought tickets to see Mumford and Sons in Bristol, and looking forward to the countless local acts that will be joining them. I'm also going to trailer my bike, so I will be able to at least taste some of the roads. Thank you for the incredible history lesson and inspiration to put me and my Harley through the paces.