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Hill of Beans: Coming of Age in the Last Days of the Old South
     

Hill of Beans: Coming of Age in the Last Days of the Old South

by John Snyder
 

This memoir of growing up in the Old South during the Depression evokes a time gone by. While it is a loving memoir, it is populated by real people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence—including a mysterious case of arson that changed John Snyder's life. Hill of Beans has been compared by publishing professionals to the

Overview

This memoir of growing up in the Old South during the Depression evokes a time gone by. While it is a loving memoir, it is populated by real people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence—including a mysterious case of arson that changed John Snyder's life. Hill of Beans has been compared by publishing professionals to the seminal writers like William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and even Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this moving memoir, Snyder documents growing up in the Carolinas during the Great Depression and offers a detailed look at that fascinating period of American history. Presenting remembrances from three geographic locations that shaped his young life, Snyder explores Cedar Mountain, N.C., "a remote place inhabited by mountaineers" who lived in rough cabins without electricity until the late 1930s; Greenville, S.C., "the textile center of the world" in the early 1940s; and the Snyder family farm in Walhalla, S.C., where sharecropping was the primary means of agriculture. Snyder also expertly profiles a wide range of family and friends—most notably his father, a hard man given to arcane phrases ("Cut that racket!' he shouts, ‘or I'll come down there and transmogrify your paraphernalia'") and his Aunt Bess, whose streak of cruelty is displayed in her love of killing chickens and telling Snyder and his brother extremely scary bedtime stories—all of whom seem to have walked straight out of a Flannery O'Connor story and into Snyder's life.
From the Publisher
" John Snyder has recovered a lost universe with a particularity so fine and fresh as to create a kind of poetry."
Diane McWhorter, author of Pulitzer Prize winning
Carry Me Home

" This is great stuff, extremely well remembered. There can't be many memories left of this time and place, and these are richly told."
Roy Blount, Jr. humorist and author of 22 books including
Crackers, Be Sweet and Alphabet Juice.

" John Snyder has conjured up a vanished world. The hardscrabble South he depicts in this beautifully evocative memoir calls to mind Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. It's a work of inspired anthropology, rich in folklore, and a work of literature."
James Atlas, author of Bellow: A Biography and a memoir
My Life in the Middle Ages.

"An absorbing and moving exploration of the effect of environment on character."
Jonathan Galassi, poet and translator of Giacomo Leopardi and Eugenio Montale.

Kirkus Reviews
Turgenev meets Mark Twain in these lyrical, acutely observed recollections wherein the author narrates his Carolina past, unearthing mountains of memories and ties that bind. Snyder is a crack observer, and this debut memoir is at once a reverie of rural life, an ode to men's crafts and boyhood's treasures and a cool refraction of the full-blooded Carolinians who hunted, fished and farmed their patch under the final sunset of the Old South. Snyder spent his early years in the cabin his father built on Cedar Mountain, N.C., where quail roamed and trout peppered the streams. In 1939, his father built a resort inn that bustled for one glorious summer, then fell to an arsonist's match. John and a brother were soon sent to live with two maiden aunts in Greenville, S.C., for school, but learned more about needlepoint, roosters and bigotry. When the family purchased a sharecropper farm in Walhalla, S.C., in 1943, adventures in hoeing and animals began in earnest. John's father, Ted, was a man for all seasons, adept with a poem as well as a gun and a saw, and the narrative sparkles with his vernacular—the winsomely meaningless "consnoggerating" is a term only a 1940s father could invent. Young John tried to live up to his father's polymathic example with tools and inventions of his own, while simultaneously adoring a succession of lovely teachers and studying his world with a fine boy's eye. The result is this book of miniatures, crafted with care and delivered with candor and heart. Each set piece—a burgling collie, a woman who lost her face to the wind, a most unfortunately ill-timed bowel movement—lends gravitas to the author's spectacle of family and humanity below the Mason-Dixon Line. Snyder is hardly the first Southerner to have wondered aloud: Who are my people? But his answer is rich and original. Or as his father might have said—big as the moon and deft as a cat. A finely detailed tableau of the lost Carolinas and a book for the boy in all of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780983062202
Publisher:
Smith/Kerr Assoc
Publication date:
10/16/2011
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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