Ecco, 2009 (originally published by West Virginia University Press in 2008)
Barnes & Noble Discover Selection
Published in the UK (Blue Door/HarperCollins), France (Grasset), Italy (Elliot Edizioni), and Germany (Nagel & Kimche)
Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nicknamed for his lifelong oral affliction. His boyhood is shaped by the Widow Dorsett, a strong mountain woman who teaches him to hunt and to survive the taunts of others. In the hills of southern West Virginia, a boy grows up fast. Trenchmouth sips moonshine, handles snakes, pleases women, and masters the rifle—a skill that lands him in the middle of the West Virginia coal wars. A teenaged union sniper, Trenchmouth is exiled to the back-woods of Appalachia’s foothills, where he spends his years running from the past. But trouble will sniff a 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.
“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.”
“When rude folk tell West Virginia jokes, nobody waits long for a punch line about bad teeth to figure in. In a perfect world, the guffawers would be delivered a copy of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart.”
“The writing is limber, and the real life it bundles up into its freakish, charismatic character make this a genuine success that admirers of John Irving – and others, too – will surely enjoy.”