After twenty-six-year-old author Breece D'J Pancake took his own life in April 1979, the West Virginian's posthumously published short-story collection made a considerable impact on the world of letters. In A Room Forever, Thomas E. Douglass offers a detailed portrait of Pancake's short life, examining the varied circumstances and emotional forces that led to the writer's suicide and exploring Pancake's influence on contemporary fiction generally and Appalachian writing in particular. Douglass has recreated the key events of the young artist's life: his West Virginia childhood, his romantic losses, his education as a writer at the University of Virginia, and the acceptance of his work by the East Coast literary establishment. Through analysis of the story fragments reproduced in this volume, including The Conqueror and Shouting Victory, Douglass illustrates the recurring themes - such as fear of failure and the inability to escape disaster - that Pancake expressed so eloquently in his work, and he shows their origins in the writer's own personal history. Douglass examines the degree to which Pancake drew on his memories of life in Appalachia and discusses Pancake's influence on other Appalachian writers such as Pinckney Benedict.