Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Good Brother

Recently I read The Good Brother, a novel by Chris Offutt, a native of eastern Kentucky who often writes about Appalachia and its people. I had read Kentucky Straight, a book of his short stories, and The Same River Twice, a memoir, and had enjoyed them.

In the book, Virgil Caudell, a resident of eastern Kentucky, kills a man who had killed his brother. He flees so he won't be killed, which would continue the blood feud, and changes his name to Joe Tiller.

By the way, that also happens to be the name of the former head football coach at Purdue Univerity. I don't know if Offutt knew that; someday I might ask him through an email.)

He ends up in the mountains of Montana and meets some hardcore antigovernment survivalists. But he doesn't share their beliefs about the feds:

Joe didn't consider the government an enemy. It was more of an entity to manipulate if you wanted fresh gravel on your road, or a family member out of jail. People at home didn't worry about the government; they ignored it. Men hunted out of season to feed their children. Families made moonshine for export, and when demand changed they grew marijuana. Laws didn't have much bearing in the hills, especially when the sheriff was an elected official.

And that's an interesting point.

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