Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Love it or hate it, Hillbilly Elegy has made its author a star interview for the political season

J.D. Vance
J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, has become a surprise star of the presidential election. Some have pointed to the book to explain Donald Trump's success in rural areas, while others have chastised the book for being an absurd portrayal of Appalachia that completely misses the mark. Either way, Vance has become one of the most sought-after interviews this fall.

"Yahoo named him one of the 16 unexpected people who made this presidential election interesting," Cheryl Truman reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "His media credits are the stuff of dreams: discussed at length in The New Yorker, interviewed by Brian Williams on MSNBC, a TED talk on 'America’s forgotten working class.' He deconstructed a Trump-Clinton debate for The New York Times under the headline 'Trump Is Faltering, But Does Clinton Know It?'”

Vance, was born in Eastern Kentucky's Breathitt County, grew up in Appalachian Ohio and attended Yale University, and is now a lawyer in Silicon Valley. He said he began writing the book "after noting that his background was unique among his colleagues in law school at Yale," Truman writes, "but he was surprised as the book gained national traction during 'the very unique political moment we find ourselves in. ... As somebody who’s not a big fan of Trump, I think it’s not necessarily the country’s gain that so many people are asking these questions.'”

Love it or hate it, the book has propelled Vance into becoming "the Hillbilly Guru, the Redneck Whisperer: While appalled by Donald Trump, he can explain to the nation’s elites why Trump’s simple, confrontational style resonates with voters disaffected by the lack of the stable middle class lives they thought were theirs and looking for something to blame," Truman writes, advancing Vance's scheduled appearance at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort this Saturday.

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