The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
Trenchmouth Taggart lives three different lives over his 108 years, spanning the years from 1903 to 2010. Dumped into a river during a strange version of baptism by his insane mother in West Virginia, TT develops a horrific gum disease kept in check by imbibing his adopted mother’s distilled liquor concoction. Initially the brunt of relentless bullying, TT quickly develops the boxing and sharpshooter abilities that earn him feared respect. The latter arises as well from his reputation as a womanizer, a legend he ignores while he engages in the randiest type of sex imaginable. Yet at the same time, TT develops an honorable integrity leading him to fight with the local mine strikers against those who refuse to alter horrific work conditions and poor pay in Matewan County. The tables are turned finally as the mine owners and spies are attacked by TT and other rebels, shortly before the well-known Battle of Blair Mountain. But by the time the end of that conflict occurs, TT has now become “Chicky Gold,” a country musician catching up with humanity after 25 years of hiding in the deep mountains. A momentous decision soon causes Taggart to adopt a new identity, that of A. C. Gilbert, a newspaperman who gets to interview John F. Kennedy and cover other significant historical events of the later 20th century.
M. Glenn Taylor’s first novel depicts a funny, thoughtful, straight kind of backward and yet innately intelligent mountain man. The narrative voice is so very engaging; this is an outstanding novel definitely worthy of its finalist status as a National Book Critics Circle Award and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.