Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DISPATCH: Operation Warrior Library thanks M. Glenn Taylor

There are only four movies which I've sat through and then watched again as soon as they ended.

Ghostbusters, Salvador, The Right Stuff...

...and Matewan.

I love Matewan by the great John Sayles and, while I wish in general that he'd make more movies, in particular I wish he'd make more movies like this one which tells part of the story of the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War. The two-year coal mountain war in West Virginia left dozens dead and was a turning point in the labor rights efforts in this country. Had Jack London been alive, he would have written about it.

But he wasn't. So John Sayles did. And now M. Glenn Taylor has taken up the story and added to it with his amazing book, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart. He's created an amazingly memorable character, Trenchmouth Taggart, and placed him in the middle of this swirl of events. And that would have been enough for a good book. But what makes it a great one is how the character's participation in those days pursues him for the rest of his life. This is a book filled with humor and hurt, love and longing. Taggart's journey is wild and wonderful and brings him into contact with both John F. Kennedy and Chuck Berry in amazingly plausible ways.

I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You can thank me later.

Glenn, and his publisher, West Virginia University Press, have seen fit to donate a case of books to Operation Warrior Library. I think this one is going to be a big hit with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks Glenn.

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