The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
  • The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
  • The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart

3.7 18
by M. Glenn Taylor
     
 

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Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nick-named for his lifelong oral affliction. In the West Virginia coal mine wars, a boy hardens quick when he picks up a gun. Exile is his trophy, and he spends his adult years on the run. He changes his name and plays a mean mouth harp, and he keeps on running from his past, all the way to Chicago.

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Overview

Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nick-named for his lifelong oral affliction. In the West Virginia coal mine wars, a boy hardens quick when he picks up a gun. Exile is his trophy, and he spends his adult years on the run. He changes his name and plays a mean mouth harp, and he keeps on running from his past, all the way to Chicago. But trouble will sniff even an old man down, and an outlaw will eventually run home. Here, Trenchmouth Taggart's story, like the best ballads, etches its mark deep upon the memory.

Editorial Reviews

The Houston Chronicle
Taylor's prose is so fluid and seemingly effortless that The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart bridges the usually irreconcilable gap between popular fiction and literary fiction. It's that rare creature - a literary page-turner - and it will please both the casual reader and the college professor . . . The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart is a stunning, fully realized, unique and ambitious book that proves there's still passion, fire and brilliance in the American novel.
—Eric Miles Williamson
Chuck Kinder
"I was hooked immediately by the narrative voice, which I would describe as utterly kickass, take-no-prisoners in tone. The combination of hyperbole & hilarity throughout is what I would call High Hillbilly in the purest form."
Houston Chronicle
"A stunning, fully realized, unique and ambitious book that proves there’s still passion, fire and brilliance in the American novel."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933202310
Publisher:
West Virginia University Press
Publication date:
06/17/2008
Pages:
276
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
3 Months

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Prologue
On December 3rd, 2010, the old man sewed his mouth shut with saltwater-rated fishing line. The sores and the throbbing were back. It was his 108th birthday, and it was the day Time magazine sent a reporter to his home in Warm Hollow, West Virginia. This was on account of the old man's reputation, and on account of Pearl Thackery. Pearl Thackery was the oldest living West Virginian and had died the week prior, leaving the old man, a one time inventor, snake handler, cunnilinguist, sniper, woodsman, harmonica man, and newspaperman, as the oldest living Homo sapien in the state.

He'd left a small, pinto bean-sized hole unsewn, so that he could ingest chicory coffee and spruce needle tea through a straw. So he could speak if he needed to. And so he could smoke his Chesterfields.

When the Time magazine reporter sat down across the kitchen table from him, the old man broke his vow of silence and mastered, in minutes, smoking and speaking simultaneously. It was a speech difficult to discern, but it was talking nonetheless. The reporter pushed the record button his miniature, steel voice recorder. A red light the size of a tick lit up. The old man marveled at this invention. He stared at the little red circle until it went blurry there on the kitchen table. It entranced him. He spun a blown-glass ashtray with his plump-veined, purple-blotched hands. His skin was thin. A full white head of hair. His eyes and ears, though drooped and wrinkled, were still keen. He farted freely.

The reported got down to business. "I'd like to ask you about your life, if I may," he said.

The old man leaned back in his split wood chair, then forward again. "You want me to bend your ear?" he said. "I'll do it. But the bend I put on it won't never heal. You're liable to go deaf." He pronounced "deaf" like "deef." It was a lot of voice from a little hole. He said, "I feel like that big small fella the Jewish actor played. Hoffman. Small Big Man. You seen it?" He lit a cigarette and stuck it in the hole. Pulled white paper red. "Was a time I had but two talents," he said. "Back then it was speaking in tongues and pleasing women by way of their nether-regions."

The reporter cleared his throat.

"I come up with the phrase, 'I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.' " This was a bald-faced lie. He said, "You may have heard along the way somewhere that I killed men." He considered the younger man, his hands and the way he held them on the table. His eyes. Then the old man bent his ear.

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What People are saying about this

Chuck Kinder
“I was hooked immediately by the narrative voice, which I would describe as utterly kickass, take-no-prisoners in tone. The combination of hyperbole & hilarity throughout is what I would call High Hillbilly in the purest form.”

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