And now for something a little different...
The publisher sent me a copy of this book for possible review, and after enjoying it, I decided it was worthy of a post here. This might not cross the radar of good beer fans, but it is related to a common theme on the Musings.
The Wettest County in the World is a historical novel set in Franklin County, Virginia during the late years of Prohibition. The author, Matt Bondurant, is the grandson of Jack Bondurant. Jack, along with his brothers Howard and Forrest were moonshiners in southwestern Virginia. Matt tells a compelling story of the Bondurants and their battles with law enforcement, and competing bootleggers.
Knifings, shootings, beatings, crooked politicians and law enforcement, the book is rife with turmoil. But it is also story of love and of trying to break out of the struggles of the time. What really struck me was the extreme to which the violence brought on by Prohibition was embedded in the lives of the characters in the book. It affected not just the bootleggers themselves, but the life of the town in which they lived. The business was an accepted, but unspoken part of the fabric of life. Reading this novel gives one a sense of just how much Prohibition adversely affected our Country.
The book tells the story not only of the Bondurant brothers, but that of Sherwood Anderson. Anderson was a contemporary of Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, and later shunned by his peers. He travelled to Franklin, Virginia to write a magazine piece on the violence and corruption associated with the moonshine business. He would soon become part of the story himself. It was Anderson who deemed Franklin County "the wettest county in the world."
Matt Bonderant recalls visiting his grandfather, who went on to become a law-abiding citizen and spoke little about his past. He relates that much of the Bonderant family history was unknown, or at least unspoken by the Bondurants. The author researched newspaper articles and court transcripts to fill in the blanks left in family stories. Even given literary allowances, the author gives a riveting account of the people and the time and place in which they lived. If you are looking for a lively and enlightening read, get this book, pour yourself a nice bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout, and settle in for a good Winter read.