Hillbilly Elegy is one of the most enlightening books that I have read in the past year. JD Vance’s plain prose is elegant in its simplicity and doesHillbilly Elegy is one of the most enlightening books that I have read in the past year. JD Vance’s plain prose is elegant in its simplicity and does not lack in thoughtful insight and compassion for his family and community. I recognize myself as being hackneyed by stating that Vance’s memoir is a must read, but it is. Who needs to read this? Liberals, conservatives and everyone else that is frustrated and heartbroken over the way things seem to be going in this country. Vance speaks to the broken heartedness and deep sense of betrayal experienced by the poor white working class.
I’m impressed that JD Vance, who self-Identities as a conservative hillbilly, does not push an ideology throughout this book. He simply writes with great humility about his life and the people he loves. The reader often detects a sense of astonishment in the writer that he should have risen from his humble and broken origins to a better life. He could have just been another statistic, a poor white working-class son self- immolating through addiction, poverty and broken relationships.
Not once in these pages did I sense an arrogance over his accomplishments nor does he blame the victims for their state of being. He does, however, recognize the need to make better choices and take personal responsibility. At the same time, he acknowledges that if it weren’t for his loving grandparents, described several times as scary old hillbillies, that guarded and guided him throughout his young life in hopes that he would do better – his beloved Mamaw believed in young JD Vance fiercely with great love and loyalty.
Vance writes about the need for enlightened public policy and yet acknowledges that such policies can only do so much. Putting the “thumb on the scale” won’t solve every problem and there is a great deal of what goes on in our culture that is beyond government influence and control. Throughout his memoir is a deep understanding of the importance of family and the community. Your children can’t make better choices if you don’t learn how to for yourself. Vance has love and appreciation for his ancestors – immediate and long past – and offers us a sense that despite working hard to make himself the man he is today, he didn’t do it without the help and love of others.
I love memoirs because they offer us a deep insight into the lives of other people that no other genre of writing can, especially if they are well written and Hillbilly Elegy is. The reader should expect to have their eyes opened and, I hope, hearts opened as well.
Eric G. Wilson has provided the antidote for the market place spirituality of our times. Keep it Fake: Inventing An Authentic Life is nothing short ofEric G. Wilson has provided the antidote for the market place spirituality of our times. Keep it Fake: Inventing An Authentic Life is nothing short of a fucking literary miracle. Drawing on his own life and his depth of literary and artistic wisdom Wilson demonstrates how the roles we choose are the key. This might be the only book you need to read this year. Read it at least 3 times. ...more