Tuesday, November 5, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Hillbilly Elegy" (2016)

"Hillbilly Elegy" - J.D. Vance (2016)
257 pages

From his early years surviving in a dysfunctional family home surrounded by dysfunctional neighbors, author J.D. Vance gives a compelling story about his own personal and painful journey growing up in the deep Appalachian areas running through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.  Poverty and abuse was just the way it was.  Love was often shown with violence.  Violence and loyalty went hand-in-hand.  His mother was an addict bringing in one boyfriend after another into their home.  Sometimes hanging around for a few months.  Other times, only a few days.  His teenage years were a juggle of bad grades and bullies.  The Marine Corps was soon knocking. (A common escape for young men in a hopeless town.)  Finally, Vance made it into college.  And Ivy League school at that.

Stories like this one are not that unusual.  They happen.  But it's always a BIG surprise when they do.  It's like the rural Appalachian areas are trapped under an oppressive dome that's filled with nothing but take-a-way dream-snatchers.  And nothing is ever a quick fix.  A government program here.  A scholastic incentive there.  I'm generalizing, of course, but most times the help must first come from within.  And then from within the home.  "Hillbilly Elegy" is a great memoir filled with hard soap and plenty of love.  I'm glad I finally picked this one up.  A surprisingly wonderful read.

"Hillbilly Highway" - Steve Earle / "Guitar Town" (1986)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

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