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JOHN SNYDER'S memoir of growing up in the Depression era south evokes a time gone by. It is written with affection and understanding about people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence..including a mysterious case of arson that forever changed the author's life. In three parts, It is about early childhood among North Carolina mountaineers, living for a time with two eccentric aunts, and growing up on a sharecropper farm before the author went away to college. HILL OF BEANS has received favorable reviews from Roy Blount, Jr., Diane McWhorter, James Atlas, Jonathan Galassi, Robert Morgan, Charles Gaines and other eminent writers.