cover image The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community

The Town on Beaver Creek: The Story of a Lost Kentucky Community

Michelle Slatalla, . . Random, $24.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-375-50905-6

The author's mother grew up in Martin, a tiny century-old eastern Kentucky town that was bulldozed in 2004 for a federal flood-relief project. As a tribute to her lost family home, New York Times Style columnist Slatalla takes readers on a sweetly affectionate stroll down a memory lane brimming with colorful yarns and characters, such as great-grandmother Hesta, who secretly raised another woman's son as her own. Although never one for rebelling, Hesta's daughter Mary falls for Elmer Wolverton, a twice-divorced suspected bootlegger who zooms into her life on a Harley. Predictably, Mary's parents disapprove, but the couple elopes, Elmer becomes a coal miner and goes off to fight in WWII but his service ends when he is hit by a grenade in basic training. Mary and Elmer lose babies to anemia, but Jo (Slatalla's mother) survives. Mary divorces Elmer when he runs off to Illinois with a girlfriend. Love beats out common sense, however, and they eventually remarry only to divorce again decades later. Although some will find these characters unsophisticated and the smalltown setting stifling, readers nostalgic for a lost smalltown America will be moved and amused by these competently written tales. 10 b&w photos. (On sale Aug. 1)