Oddments: We’re Still Here

I am still slowly working my way through the essays in Appalachian Reckoning.  A helluva lot of people struggling and striving and suffering who are too inconvenient to admit exist when you have a narrative of your own to peddle.  Nevertheless we persist in existing, an inconvenient truth.  A throwaway line in an essay full of them reminded me, in that bewildering, wonderful way the human brain connects random bits, of a line from a buddy of mine from middle school.  Riffing on Robin Leach and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (then still on the air), he would, repeatedly, refer to the “lifestyles of the poor and dainty.”  It was a funny line, but not one that had any real reason to be memorable.  Again, the human brain is funny like that.  I wondered what my old friend was up to these days.  So I did what we do these days.

I looked him up on Facebook.  I spent a few minutes browsing a very normal small town Facebook page before noticing that it was a memorialized account.

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Music Monday: 17 by Cross Canadian Ragweed

Going back to your small hometown after you’ve left is a funny thing.  It is a significant theme in one of my current reads, Empire Falls by Richard Russo.  I’ve been gone for almost twenty years now, although I did three short stints during that period crashing at home.  I think I am finally past always feeling 17 in my hometown (and clenching up every single time I see the cops).  Having a baby will do that to you.  But with a roadtrip home impending, my thoughts are turning to my hometown and my old friends.

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Country Noir: Bearskin by James McLaughlin

Rick Morton is caretaker and science tech for over seven thousand acres of private nature preserve, a large chunk of which is old-growth forest.  He is also Rice Moore, an ex-con on the run from the Cartel.

Bearskin is gorgeously written but understated.  It’s literary without sacrificing plot.  It’s bloody without being mindless.  It contains a touch of the supernatural (maybe) and a touch of the surreal.  It walks a fine line between the people and the place of the mountains of Virginia.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Like Lions by Brian Panowich

Like Lions is the sequel to Panowich’s excellent country noir Bull Mountain.  I have a review copy and, let me tell you, Like Lions is even better.  You can find my review of Bull Mountain here.  Keep an eye out for my review of Like Lions on May 1.  Check out the blurb for the multi-generational hillbilly crime drama after the jump.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.

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Music Monday: Charley Pride

Charley Pride recorded somewhere between 29 and 40 #1 hits, depending on how you count.  It was funny, then, when someone posing as an expert on country music claimed only four black men had ever topped Billboard Country Charts.[1]  One of those didn’t—Lil Nas X.  And there was one massive omission—Charley Pride.  The most likely explanation is the most obvious.  This guy doesn’t know who Charley Pride is because he doesn’t really know shit about country music and is lying to make a cheap point.

When called on it, he responded flippantly.  I could argue here that if you expect any credibility in arguing country music[2] that you need to get your facts right.  He might perhaps argue in return that his cause[3] is more important than getting it right about Mr. Pride.  But those are utilitarian arguments.  I’m not interested in making utilitarian arguments.  In Kantian terms, Mr. Pride has the right to be treated as an end, not as a means.  In Christian terms, he is inherently deserving of dignity as a human being created in God’s image.  He is a man, not a tool in your box of arguments.

So fuck that hack.  Let’s listen to some damn fine music.

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Country Noir: Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

With Bull Mountain, Brian Panowich has given us a sprawling, multigenerational crime saga.  A hillbilly Godfather.  You know what you’re in for when you see the family tree.  Country noir novels should have family trees like fantasy novels have maps.

Bull Mountain starts with one fratricide.  It won’t be the last.

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