I'm half-way through Michael Connelly's Two Kinds of Truth which is a Bosch book, but next I'll read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, one of the few non-fiction books I'll read this year. I read 5 or 6 books a week but almost all are fiction. I'll make the exception for Vance's book.
He grew up, like me, a hillbilly--in Middletown, Ohio and in Kentucky. If you don't know Appalachia by heart, Middletown fits. It's a few miles north of Cincinnati, which was where folks from West Virginia and Kentucky went when the mines were shut down. My father in law spent a year or two working in Cincinnati over his time as a coal miner. When he would visit us in New Haven he'd walk over to an Italian market to talk in Italian to the owners. They told me they couldn't understand his Italian because of his Appalachian accent!
I am a hillbilly. I am White Trash. I am an Appalachian==a boy from the mountains.
So I look forward to Vance's book. I'm sure we share much in common--though from the reviews I've read we come from different versions of White Trash. His was much more mired in poverty and alcohol and violence than mine.
My mother's family were tee-totaler, Fundamentalist Christians. My father's family were farmers who left the farm and had what were then lower middle class jobs.
But the mountains and the culture were the same.
I often have difficulty telling folks from Connecticut what my childhood was like. It's hard for them to imagine the place I come from--the wondrous mountains, the isolation, the rural poverty.
I sometimes have difficulty remembering what it was like back there in the hollows. One of my bucket list things is to go spend a few days in McDowell County. Bern grew up there too--ethnic hillbillies--she has no interest in going with me.
I'll let you know what I think of the book and write more of what it was like to grow up in Appalachia.
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