Monday, October 03, 2016

POLITICAL INK - "Hillbilly Elegy"

"The struggling, rural, white communities that feel like nobody cares" PBS NewsHour 9/27/2016


SUMMARY:  In “Hillbilly Elegy,” J.D. Vance explores life in some of the most geographically secluded parts of the country and the mountain of problems communities there are facing, from economic issues to drug addiction.  The subject is a personal one for Vance, who was raised by his grandparents in Appalachia.  Judy Woodruff sits down with him to discuss his experience and how these issues came to be.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, in this topsy-turvy election year, we have a timely portrait of Americans who are often ignored and misunderstood, depicted as only an insider could.

It's the first in an occasional series on books this election season we're calling Political Ink.

J.D. Vance, welcome to the NewsHour.

This book is many things, “Hillbilly Elegy,” but I think, amongst all else, it's a personal story.  It's about growing up in Appalachia under what I think what everybody would agree difficult circumstances, raised by your grandparents, father who wasn't there, mother had an addiction.

I think, for most people, hard to write about these things, but not hard for you?

J.D. VANCE, Author, “Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”:  No, it was definitely hard.

I definitely struggled allotted with the intrusion and just being so open about my personal history and my family history.  But I decided that, ultimately, it was worth it because I felt that a lot of these issues needed to be talked about.  They needed to be talked about openly.  And I couldn't think of a better way to do it than just be really honest about my own failings and my family's failings, because sometimes honesty is just the best policy, and that starts with me.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, you do write very candidly about a rough-around-the-edges lifestyle, both in Kentucky and then when your family moved to Southern Ohio.

It's rough around the edges, but it's a life you love and a life you honor.

J.D. VANCE:  Yes, absolutely.

There are good and bad parts of this community and of my own family, of course.  And I try to be very frank about the problems, but also very compassionate, and also explain why so many of these people were so good to me and so important in my life, and, frankly, why I wouldn't have had the opportunities I have right now if it weren't for them.

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