Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hill William” as Want to Read:
Hill William
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Hill William

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  857 ratings  ·  144 reviews
"You can tell McClanahan feels something when he writes and when he lives. He wants you to feel something too."—The Huffington Post

I walked up to the side of the mountain like I used to do when I was a little boy. I looked out over Rainelle and watched it shine. The coal trucks and the logging trucks were still gunning it through town. They were still clear cutting the mou
Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published October 14th 2013 by Tyrant Books (first published August 13th 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hill William, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Hill William

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  857 ratings  ·  144 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hill William
Michael Seidlinger
I punched myself in the face after reading this, it was so good. I punched myself again, and then I forced myself to eat the pages.

Every single page, until the book became a part of me.

Richard Derus
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Beginning to read Hill William is like tuning into a blues station at 4:00 a.m. while driving down the highway. Scott McClanahan's work soars with a brisk and lively plainsong, offering a boisterous peek into a place often passed over in fiction: West Virginia, where coal and heartbreak reign supreme. Hill William testifies to the way place creates and sometimes stifles one's ability to hope. It reads like a Homeric hymn to adventure, to the human comedy's
Tyler Crumrine
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Scott McClanahan is shaping us into swords.
M. Sarki
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Not sure I even know a Scott McClanahan. However, I have read five of his books now and I have seen him on TV, or my equivalent of TV, if you can count and consider youtube as part of my inadequate equation. I have also heard him speak to me, again on my machine that allows me this enterprise, in a voice that is somewhat gravelly and raw and at times a bit, I think, deranged. Similar to a defrocked but still far too-serious preacher. Sort of also like an i

"My cousin was so lonely one night he went out and fucked the earth"..."Yeah, he went and thumbed a hole in the ground and started humping the dirt."

Humping the earth sounds poetic. But the reality of it is raw and bloody and painful. Kind of like the difference between the self as the fictitious work we all present to each other in our day to day lives, and the deeper self, where the pain and trauma and general unease lurks. The flimsy membrane that separates the two, that is where McClanah
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A list of the top ten types of people who won't like Hill William

1. Delicate people.

2. People who want to spend weeks or months with a novel.

3. Nuns. (This is a bad generalisation. Some nuns might like it.)

4. People who despise prose that reads like poetry.

5. People who want to turn their books into doorstops or paperweights.

6. People who dislike reading about violence and cruelty.

7. Parents who don't want their children reading distasteful literature.

8. Traditionalists.

9. People who don't like
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It really is something to see how McClanahan can hit readers with such penetrating emotions with a narrative voice that is both calm and non-manipulative. He just lays it out there, though the words still have an essential poetry to them, and it seems so straightforward that you don't even see it coming. Then it hits you. There is some real power there, and it's all the more impressive because McClanahan makes it seem effortless. It just 'is' something that moves. ...more
Charles  Beauregard
It is unfortunately not the type of book I like. It doesn't fare well when compared to McCarthy, who I can't help but compare a southern 'realist' author to. His style is tepid. ...more
Kyle Muntz
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really nice book that has most of what I love about Scott McClanahan's writing (his collected stories and Crapallacia are both favorites of mine), though this one feels a bit too much like a fix-up novel, with a bunch of collected short stories that don't quite add up to a novel. It's much darker than Crapallacia, made up of penetratingly insightful, sad moments of childhood, particularly centering around Scott's (the narrator's) unpleasant, mentally unstable friend Derrick (probably the "Hill ...more
Matthew Savoca
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is a beautiful man.
Ben Loory
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Lord for letting me see Mountains.
Bud Smith
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by this one and this is coming from a big fan of Scott McClanahan. Ive read everything he's written and I waited for a long time to get my hands on Hill Williams. Maybe I went into it with way too high expectations but now that I've had a couple of days to think it over I have to say it's just ok.

One of my favorite things about McClanahans style is how the entire book comes together. Hill Williams is an introspective as to why Scott is the way he is.
Jan 16, 2021 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
Comes out of nowhere, turns into everything. Poetic, angry, poignant.
cast asunder
Jul 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was 17 in one sitting and when I was done I wept like a child. Now, every time I think of it or re-read it (which I do once a year), I cry a lot.

Here is another book I would never have come across if not for The Tournament of Books. It is a coming of age tale but not much like any such story I have read before.

The opening sentences: "I used to hit myself in the face. Of course, I had to be careful about hitting myself now that I was dating Sarah. One night we got into a fight and I went into the bathroom to get rid of that sick feeling in my shoulders, and I did it. I wasn't feeling any better afterwards, so I hit myself in the face one
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I only read this one because it made the Tournament if Books list. Mercifully short - it would have been a painful experience if it had been any longer. Not terrible, but I don't think I would have missed it if I never picked it up. ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dirty-south
In this one, McClanahan wrote the story he needed, not the story we wanted. All I can say is, thank God he did.
Anna Mallon
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Scott McClanahan so much it's unbelievable. ...more
May 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I told her, "You make me want to hit myself in the face, but i'm not hitting myself in the face, and this shows i'm doing better."
I was the winner. I was better now.

God I wish I was a man who felt righteous in his anger.
Kate Mcphail
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"She wasn't crying, but I took my hand and wiped away her tears.

Even now I still reach across the years with my giant hand and wipe them away." (p. 180 Psychiatrists and Mountain Dew)
Melissa Rochelle
I knew making my way through the Tournament of Books shortlist would be a challenge. I read for good stories, not good writing. I don't care if a writer comes from some fantastic MFA program in Iowa or NYC. I want a book that entertains or educates or something. This little book takes everything bad that could happen to a kid and makes it happen. It was a tough read -- like watching 12 Years a Slave -- you know these things have happened to people, but it doesn't make it any easier to read/watch ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read most of this while standing around at an airport gate, waiting for a friend to arrive. It's a quick read.

But not an easy read. I was first exposed to Scott McClanahan when I came across Crapalachia: A Biography of Place. It was realistic but funny, taking moments of the author's own life. In the case of Hill William, I'm less certain I want to know if is based on the author's experiences. Where Crapalachia was quirky, Hill William was uncomfortable. Where Crapalachia made me laugh, Hill W
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm being a tad curmudgeonly and cutting 1/2 star because I get annoyed by novels in which the protagonist has the name name as the author, and the book is dedicated to a woman who has the same name as the protagonist's love. Stop it. Just stop it. If you want to write a memoir, write a memoir.

Otherwise, this is an oddly compelling, at times vicious book. I can't say I "liked" it, and at times it was hard to read (explicit sexual abuse of kids), but also some really good writing in spots.
emilie :)
Jul 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Raw and hard as fuck, sometimes painful to read but above all sincere and essential reading for people from nowhere.
“i sat and looked over shining rainelle and had no idea that this was going to be the place where i found out what it was like to die. this is the place where all of the joy of the world would come to me and where i’d fall in love with my life”
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
There's some rough raw content here about growing up in Appalachia, in the midst of violence to both nature and humans. But I thought the voice was way to MFA - faux innocent interspersed with "deep" truths. Slight and skippable. ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so holyshit good! Read it in one sitting. McClanahan is a force.
Juliet Escoria
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scott McClanahan is a genius.
Daniel Eastman
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McClanahan writes like a child sputtering out a story he isn't supposed to be telling. McClanahan writes like he hasn't been drilled for years on a right or wrong way to write. McClanahan doesn't write so much as speak, conversationally and accessibly, to you, whoever you are. And you can be anyone. He desperately wants you to know his world. I don't know if I can call it minimalist or realist, because there are certainly times when this verges on the poetically surreal.

The other night I was at
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about the book. I like the spare and raw writing style. Reminds me in certain ways of Cormac McCarthy without the vocabulary or batshit observations on the cosmic, and probably more closely Bukowski or Hubert Selby with its subject matter. I got the most interest out of the portions involving Sarah, but those are definitely informed and supported by the bulk of the story in the protagonists’ childhood, which is packed full of dysfunction that surely a large portion of reade ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Cherry
  • Essays and Fictions
  • Leave Society
  • Fuccboi
  • What Purpose Did I Serve in Your Life
  • Taipei
  • Body High
  • Welfare
  • Suicide
  • Person
  • Airships
  • Eeeee Eee Eeee
  • Sleepovers
  • Visions
  • Rontel
  • Pure Colour
  • The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories
  • The Garbage Times/White Ibis: Two Novellas
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Scott McClanahan (born June 24, 1978) is an American writer, filmmaker, and martial artist. He lives in Beckley, West Virginia and is the author of eight books. His most recent book, The Sarah Book, was featured in Rolling Stone, Village Voice, and Playboy. NPR called the book "brave, triumphant and beautiful — it reads like a fever dream, and it feels like a miracle." McClanahan is also a co-foun ...more

Articles featuring this book

This month, Nico Walker's first novel will be published. But the author's personal story has already captured the attention of...
49 likes · 15 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“I couldn't believe it.

Something wasn't right.

I thought, "Batman smokes cigarettes."

I couldn't believe it. "Batman smokes fucking cigarettes."

I walked away and saw that Batman was just this stupid guy dressed up in a rubber suit, just as afraid as I was, and that I lived in a lost place inside my own heart, where even Batman couldn't help me.”
“That night I dreamed about flying turtles and forest fires and fucking the earth...The next morning I awoke and I listened to the tree company tearing away the woods and the timber. I heard the chainsaws ripping outside my open window and I heard the dynamite exploding all the mountain tops away for the black rock below. And instead of feeling sad like I did most mornings, I felt something else now. I found myself saying, 'Explode. Explode you mountains. Rip them down you fuckers. Take this stinking dirt and leave this land with hatred and death.” 1 likes
More quotes…