Heaven Beside You is the name of an Alice In Chains song that I always liked, but the reason it was so very appropriate for this book was because West Virginians’ refer to the state as heaven. John Denver’s song “Country Roads” was written about driving through West Virginia and refers to the state as heaven. During the Depression many, many West Virginians migrated to Akron, Ohio to work in the rubber factories. They referred to Route 77, which is the direct route from Akron to West Virginia as the Highway to Heaven.
Funny aside, Koreans are obsessed with John Denver (and Kenny Rogers, but that’s not my point.) If you happen to have a guitar in your hands, Koreans will ask if you can sing “Country Roads.” Sometimes they will break in to song themselves. Now consider the Asian difficulty with the letter R. “Contilee loads / taka me hoome / to the prace I be wrong / West Virginia / Mountain mama / Taka me hoome / Contilee loads.” It’s difficult to keep a straight face.
Not terribly surprising though. Korean landscape looks remarkably like West Virginia. I remember being out in the countryside at a resort looking around felling like I was in West Virginia and then coming across a spirit pole. Weird.