Ecco, 2009 (originally published by West Virginia University Press in 2008)

Finalist, 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
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.”
Houston Chronicle

“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.”
Cleveland Plain-Dealer

“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.”
The Independent