Thursday, June 5, 2014

Southern literature

Perry Woodson Hatfield James is a seventeen-year-old boy who is a mine worker in Harlan County, Kentucky. He's proud of his family heritage being of the Hatfield clan and a distant relative to Frank James.

The story opens when he's with a number of men and sets an explosive device to go off and shut down a mine that was hiring non-union workers. Since the scabs take jobs of union men, they feel that they are taking food off of their table.

With the minors on strike and no work to be found, Perry enters the job corps. He makes mistakes but owns up to them and ends up with letters of recommendation and the promise of a good job. However, a letter comes about his father being injured in a bomb that was set at a union meeting. He rushes home to see his father and promises revenge to the men who set the bomb.

Perry's family refuses to accept welfare and there is a memorable scene when welfare workers come to his home and discuss taking the three youngest children to a home where they could get care and feeding.

With Perry's desire for revenge, the reader feels sympathy for him and hopes that he doesn't throw his life away.

The story is extremely believable and reading of the economically deprived workmen and the big time businesses that are looking out only for themselves, the story reminded me of "The Grapes of Wrath."


skkorman said...

Thanks for the review, Mike—I think James Lee Burke is the best writer working today; I've been following his Dave Robicheaux series for decades!

Stay well!
Sheila K.

Kelly said...

I've never read any Burke (though I've heard rave reviews). I do have the first in the Dave Robicheaux series in my TBR pile. I've just put off reading it for fear I'll want/need to read all the others!

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