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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Antidote

A few reasons why "Hillbilly Elegy" (2016) by JD Vance would not have normally gotten into my reading queue:

* It's a memoir, a genre I've avoided lately. It's also the #1 bestseller on the NY Times non-fiction list, a distinction that often awakens my latent snobbishness.
* The author is a contributor to "National Review".
* The world of "hillbillies" usually does not entice me.

Finishing Vance's moving tale of a "... family and culture in crisis ...", I was again reminded how reading can be an antidote to narrow mindedness, especially my own. Although I didn't agree with some of the author's conclusions, and I don't share his faith in the role the church plays in helping rescue people from "learned helplessness", the book is a worthwhile and engaging read. Vance makes very clear he is telling his story, not presenting a research paper or sociological tract. And his story is a powerful one. He's careful to say there are "... no villains ...", while coupling that forgiveness with rich insights about himself. "Even at my best, I'm a delayed explosion - I can be defused but only with skill and precision."

I lost count how many times my parents crossed my mind as I read this book. I will never be able to adequately express how grateful I am for the stability they provided me. I'm very curious to hear what this memoir elicits in you.

1 comment:

  1. "Of all the things that I hated about my childhood, nothing compared to the revolving door of father figures." -J.D.Vance (chapter 6)
    Pat, I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy on Jan 18th. I'm now looking at several pages of related notes. Do you realize how much you're missing by shrouding me? Fortunately, my mother never demanded "clean piss" from me to use for the nursing board analysis.