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Last Mountain Dancer, Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life by Chuck Kinder

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The Press claims this is a novel, but it sure reads like a travelogue covering a trip that Chuck Kinder takes back to his home state of West Virginia while on sabbatical from his job teaching writing at the University of Pittsburg. Probably the Press feels like Kinder must surely be exaggerating, but how do you explain that this book cemented Kinder reputation as one of West Virgina’s “Outlaw Authors” along with the late Lee Maynard?  Probably some readers believe every word in it. Publishers Weekly exclaimed, “At the beginning of this bawdy, in your face, hugely entertaining bear of a book, Kinder explains that he intends to tell readers about his home state, West Virginia, land of ‘legendary mountain dancers, moonshiners, stupendous marijuana farmers, snakehandlers, blood-feudists, mystery midgets, mothmen [and] horny space aliens who drop into my home state as regular as clock-work in order to engage in extra-terrestrial sex with a multitude of juicy West Virginia majorettes’. . . . Family members, old drinking buddies, new drinking buddies and a host of others flood the narrative. Sparks fly, plans are hatched, threats are made and a lot of legally questionable activity is engaged in, and Kinder's fine prose relates it all. . . Kinder's unflappable, humble demeanor and heartbreaking humanity hold this sometimes unwieldy book together.” Booklist exudes, "West Virginians want the world at large to know they can be as bland and boring and ordinary as anybody else in this television-leveled land called homogenized America. That all sounds fine on paper until native son and novelist Kinder, on sabbatical from the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh, returns there and begins explaining it. Colorful enough to inspire Michael Douglas' character, Grady Tripp, in the movie Wonder Boys, Kinder starts with the most interesting West Virginian available: himself.. . . . Those who can manage the journey will discover sweet secrets of this overlooked place.”

Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, a 2018 paperback reprint of a 2004 hardback release. 455 pages. Trade paperback