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The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  799 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, the oldest living man in West VIrginia, a man whose epic and absurd life story unfolds from the moment of his frozen-river baptism in 1903. Trenchmouth, nicknamed for his inexplicable, lifelong oral affliction, is orphaned and then raised by the Widow Dorsett, a strong mountain woman who teaches him to fend for himself. Trouble seems to follow Tre ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 30th 2008 by West Virginia University Press (first published 2008)
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Best Books Set in Appalachia
162nd out of 407 books — 648 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,349)
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Will Byrnes
Sep 02, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
In the Thomas Berger’s novel, Little Big Man, Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman in the film) recalls the events he has seen over the hundred-plus years of his life. Whether we call our historical observer Zelig, Jack Crabb, Time Traveller (from H. G. Well’ The Time Machine) or Trenchmouth Taggart, the point is to offer a view of some aspects of the human experience with a long but personal perspective. In fact Taylor tips his hat to Berger with a specific mention of Little Big Man, the movie, on page 2 ...more
Melki
Jun 17, 2015 Melki rated it liked it
Miners stayed poor loading that coal
Till Trenchmouth Taggart came to save their soul
He stood his ground and took his stand
An eye for an eye with that green-fisted man


This started out as a blazing five-star read!

A poor mountain boy, almost killed by his birth mother's attempt to baptize him, is adopted by a female moonshiner. He develops a heap o' handy skills, raises hell at some miner's strikes and works himself up to outcast outlaw.

Then the second half of the book reared its lackluster head an
...more
Kate
May 23, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: John T. at McNally Jackson in Soho
It's been a while since I so thoroughly loved a book. The combination of compelling storytelling and deft Technicolor writing is such a delight: Taylor is a writer's writer who is a joy to read. Plot-wise, the story charts the extremely long and adventurous life of Trenchmouth Taggart (that's the first of his names, anyway). Trenchmouth is a complex and very human character--we relate to his struggles and the tragedies that he endures, but the choices he makes that reveal weakness and cowardice ...more
Mel
Jan 23, 2013 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-the-library
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was a great read. It was a great use of the mountain people's vast knowledge and stories and culture with a great epic adventure of one man. It was almost everything I love in a story all wrapped up into one.
Jc
Nov 22, 2014 Jc rated it it was ok
Shelves: romans
The reviews are very good but I did not like this book and Glenn Taylor is definitely no Cormack McCarthy nor John Irving. OK his character is interesting. Maybe I should say characters as Trenchmouth morphs into Chicopee, then Chicky Gold the harmonica man, then A.C. Gilbert the journalist and Pulitzer price winner (?!) and finally Ace the old man. Focusing on West Virginia is interesting and original. It is a pity the coal wars are not better described; it comes out as a bunch of messy brawls ...more
Adrienne
Nov 03, 2008 Adrienne rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because it was written by a family friend, and I turned each page after that because I was enjoying it so much. The well-spun life story of an outcast/ outlaw born in 1903 West Virginia. Deeply respectful of the mining life, beautifully written with great humor, outrageousness and believability. I found myself interested in all kinds of things I didn't know I was interested in: mining and labor union history, snake and gun handling, and trenchmouth, to name a few. I recomme ...more
Steve
Oct 22, 2008 Steve rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: read-in-2008
My favorite book so far this year; it really deserves at least six stars. Taylor's prose sings. He illuminates even the most minor of characters. The book is filled with music and love and family and lost opportunities and love. We follow the life story of Trenchmount Taggart, through many life stages and identities. The book is primarily set in West Virginia, and Taylor brings it to life for us. He makes even the most challenging subjects fun and interesting to read about. All I can say is "wow ...more
Whit
Jan 10, 2015 Whit rated it it was amazing
Excellent read.
Kate SouthernBelleSimple
I actually listened to the audio version of this book and it was amazing! Trenchmouth Taggart is a fabulous character whose story covers a lot of years....but all parts were interesting and kept me wanting more. I got to hear the author read from his newest work at a book festival and he seemed like a really nice guy. I'm happy to support southern authors, especially when they write such great stories!
Brian
Jul 29, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fell in love with this intriguing little book that so expertly, and entertainingly weaves West Virginia history and Appalachian folk tale into one cohesive story.
Rebecca Ashby
Aug 14, 2015 Rebecca Ashby rated it really liked it
I immediately connected with this book and character. That being said I came into it with zero expectations...had never heard of he author and didn't read any reviews. My first impression about 1/3 of the way in was I didn't want to finish the book because then it would be over and I loved it too much to let that happen. I just now finished reading this and while a little disappointed in the direction, I loved this book. I look forward to reading more and Trenchmouth will stay with me as a belov ...more
Quiltgranny
Dec 16, 2010 Quiltgranny rated it it was amazing
I've waited a few days to think about what I wanted to say about this book. When I first picked it up, I thought it would be a light read, another one of those hill stories out of West Virginia that has you just go along with it, then put it down and move on. Well, I was surprised!

I think the best way I can describe the writing is this: Other stories put you in the canoe as an observer, and you are just along for the ride. Sometimes it's choppy, other times serene, and at the end of the journey
...more
Adena
Jan 01, 2011 Adena rated it liked it
This is a book that I wouldn't have undertaken by choice; I read it to write a summary for a website that I tutor for. It is essentially a 100-year history of the West Virginian region, as seen through the eyes of a rather unique character, Early "Trenchmouth" Taggart. It opens in the late 1800's and ends nearly 100 years later with his death. To quote the opener of my summary, "The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by M. Glenn Taylor opens as Early “Trenchmouth” Taggart is being interviewed. At 108 ...more
Derek Smith
Apr 08, 2013 Derek Smith rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. A story almost over the top, as a 108 year old man from West Virginia tells his life story. A life that almost didn't start, as our hero is dropped as a baby through the ice, to come up some way down the river. This is Trenchmouth's cold beginning as he is rescued by his stepmother, his birthmother going into the asylum. Trenchmouth has a number of lives. The one I enjoyed most was his life fighting the vicious mine owners in a 1920s strike. He shoots some of their agents, w ...more
Leslie Munson
Apr 26, 2016 Leslie Munson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard to put down

This book of tales was easily the most interesting book I've read this year. The historical interest was intense while the personal intrigue kept me turning pages. The research the writer did on mountain people was fascinating and true. He did a lot of research on the violence of the mines and helplessness of those families trying to make a living mining coal. I loved the nod to music of that time and place as well as the name dropping.

I loved this book.
Chad
Aug 19, 2015 Chad rated it it was amazing
Course, foul, dirty and shocking is how I would describe this book. I would have preferred the writer leave out the "super natural" component to the story, but it was not his focus so I was able to overlook it. Trenchmouth is an interesting character to say the least. Sort of a "Forest Gump" of depression era Appalachia, only much less innocent. I give this a 5 start because it was very well written and the story is excellent.
Lee
Aug 28, 2014 Lee rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed it an easy 5/5 for me.

The book is split into three sections youth,adulthood and old age.
The first part of the book had me completely engrossed and I absolutely flew through it, things were never going to be easy for poor old Trenchmouth from the day he was born.
Always a bit of a loner due to his oral affliction, he was almost feral when growing up, then due to certain events he pretty much does become feral when he reaches adulthood and the book doesn't slow down it keeps yo
...more
Agnese
Aug 05, 2011 Agnese rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The plot is original in the first third of the book, then turns into a sort of fairy tale, soon falls into nonsense, and regains some plausibility towards the end, but at the same time it becomes banal in content and style. Taggart goes through manifold events to cynically - and realistically - conclude that the concept of truth among people is arbitrary, written rules often don’t hold, only nature is steady and can offer some consolation and refuge. The narration doesn’t flow, it has often some ...more
Edwin Martin
Dec 25, 2015 Edwin Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting fictional story with connections to the people and history of the coal mining region in southwest WV along the Tug Fork River bordering KY. Author knows how to weave an interesting story with apparently thorough study into the real history of the area and it's struggles during the heyday of coal mining industry. A real bargain from Dollar Tree !
Mary Glass
Dec 30, 2015 Mary Glass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank God for the country boys

Some lives are so big they only seem real in fiction. This is a good example. Maybe a great one. A lucky boy to land with the pluckiest widow lady ever. No punches pulled and stronger for it. A long span of history and life.
Lauren
Aug 21, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
Eh. This book had a certain swagger, and the characters and situations were somewhat entertaining and outlandish in a rough-and-tumble sort of way. But the author's writing seemed shaky... The book was of course told in a certain way such that describing the writing as unpolished wouldn't make sense. Of course it was unpolished; it was supposed to be. But I felt like he wasn't as good as he thought or should have been... Reading it felt a bit like going to a jazz or classical performance and hea ...more
Martin Haynes
Mar 31, 2014 Martin Haynes rated it it was amazing
Well worth the read. Give it a try, you will be drawn in by the language, the atmosphere and all the stuff you didn't know about 20th century American history. It will make laugh and cringe, sometimes at the same time. Now then, where's that bottle of 'shine!
Mike
Feb 10, 2009 Mike rated it liked it
I was torn between three stars and four...the book tells the life story of the fictional Trenchmouth Taggart in a way that, really, illuminates what life is like in West Virginia over the past 100 years. In short, it's been ruled by violence, substance abuse, poverty, and religion - the people have aged, many have died, new ones have been born - but the same problems remain. I decided on three stars because, in my opinion, for the book to reach the next level Trenchmouth needed to be more than a ...more
Dave Knop
Aug 14, 2016 Dave Knop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unique, unusual, riveting

Trench mouth is an unusual character written in unique style. The author's use or the West Virginia dialect rings true and provides depth to the rugged terrain and tough people. Unforgettable.
Jeff
Feb 03, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century
Very good first novel and a wonderful character. I was drawn in quickly by Taylor's description of Trenchmouth and his West Virginia world of the early 20th century. While the writing holds up, the story doesn't really go anywhere; and the underlying suspense of Trenchmouth avoiding the law as we the century unfolds didn't quite work for me. It was worth reading, and I'd try another book by Taylor, who showed me skill and promise.
Sara
Apr 13, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing
I would rate this book 4.5 stars. I loved the story, and the writing was great, but the one thing I did not like was how fast it went. It seemed like very important events were just glossed over. Other than that, it was a fantastic story.
Keith
Jul 16, 2014 Keith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peggy
Sep 20, 2015 Peggy rated it really liked it
I really, really, really loved this book...for the first 2/3. 5 stars
But it got a bit long and dragged a little for the last third.
Irresistible title! I mean, really??? A guy named Trenchmouth Taggart? Wonderful. Sounds like something Dickens would have thought up, right?
Set in Appalachia in early part of century...a castaway child raised by a wise woman who picks up and raises stray kids needing a home...
Then there's trouble at the mines. There is death. And Tranchmouth, being 'involved,' must
...more
Chaplain Stanleigh Chapin
Mixed emotions

One that I started liking, then it skipped ahead about twenty years and seemed to wander thereafter. Plus the main character became a bit unbelievable.
Deb
Apr 06, 2015 Deb rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deb by: Pete Brown
I enjoyed this book about a man who was born in the hills of southern West Virginia in 1903 and lived to be 108. Though a work of fiction, the author wove real events and people into the story that made it very interesting.
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M. Glenn Taylor was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. His stories have been published in such literary journals as The Chattahoochee Review, Mid-American Review, Meridian, and Gulf Coast. He teaches English and fiction writing at Harper College in suburban Chicago, where he lives with his wife and three sons.
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