Something will have gone seriously wrong if the second half of Matt Bondurant‘s second novel, The Wettest County in the World, turns out to be a flop—I’m halfway through it, and it’s making a serious argument for being one of my favorite novels of the year. The story focuses on a generation of moonshiners in southern Virginia, with some perspective offered by Sherwood Anderson, who in 1934 visited the region to work on a story about the trade. A brief passage captures the the emotional detail of Bondurant’s writing, and how he anthropomorphizes the homebrew whiskey’s spectral power:
Hell, Anderson thought, that seems to be an appropriate thing to drink to, and he raised the glass to his lips and downed the last sip. When he closed his eyes for a moment he saw a great shape in a dark field, above him in the indeterminate emptiness. Its force and mass were terrifying, its slow, descending sway. By the time he got his shoes off and lay back down the whiskey crept up his brain stem and took him, dead asleep before he laid his head down.
No recent interviews with Bondurant are making the rounds that I’ve noticed, but his recent appearance on Apostrophe Cast’s reading series is worth checking out—the author reads four poems, three of which are about Peanuts characters.