October 22, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Wettest County in the World

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Matt Bondurant
publisher
Scribner
genre
History, Fiction
We gave it a B

Part family history, part fiction, Matt Bondurant’s somber, engrossing novel, The Wettest County in the World, patches together the legend of his paternal grandfather and uncles, a fearsome trio of bootleggers in rural Prohibition-era Virginia. He’s wonderful at evoking historical atmosphere — the elaborate stills camouflaged in the woods,the music, the drunken gatherings that explode into shattering violence. (The book would make a teriffic HBO series.) Alas, he is somewhat less wonderful at pacing the narrative, which can be maddeningly slow. B

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