The Book of Bunk: A Fairy Tale of the Federal Writers' Project

Glen Hirshberg, Earthling (www.earthlingpub.com), $40 (236p) ISBN 978-0-9795054-9-2
In this lyrical meditation on the sustaining power of the imagination, an officer of the WPA's Federal Writers' Project taps Okie hobo Paul Dent to contribute to the guide series documenting the American way of life in each of the 48 states. Off-loaded to Trampleton, N.C., in March 1936, Paul immerses himself in the local culture and becomes privy to fascinating oral anecdotes of the town's social and racial history. He also takes part in the Buncombe ("Bunk") County masquerade, a townwide indulgence in make-believe sponsored by a thinly disguised F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose skill at mythmaking clearly inspired Hirshberg (American Morons). Tragedy intervenes at the instigation of Paul's older brother, Lewis, a political opportunist, but not before this vivid re-creation of smalltown Depression-era America enchants with its well-drawn characters, eloquent repartee, and poignant fantasia on a social experiment, which, if it didn't play out this way, should have. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/25/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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