Author Topic: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?  (Read 7211 times)

trashmanz

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #50 on: February 16, 2017, 11:12:23 AM »
I just finished it a few minutes ago.  Maybe it was all the hype, but although it was an interesting rags to riches type of story I'm not sure what makes his story so groundbreaking?  True he isn't the typical Yale Law Grad, but every law school class typically has socioeconomically diverse selections.  All of it seemed sensible enough, seemed like a guy I would get along with ok with.  From the reviews I expected to gain some new insight into why Trump had so much support, but personally I didn't come away with any more insight than before. 

BTW, for further analysis of +&- of payday loans see: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/payday-loans/
I dont think it presented anything new. The insight into how mawmaw and her husband and family lived, hand to mouth and attemping to show they were not poor, was interesting. Also, how she showed her grandson to fight was, er, interesting.

The Glass Castle is a gem, as mentimed above, but it doesnt attempt to explain a whole group of people (coal moners who mve to the rustbelt.) Jeannette Walls parents were unique.

As a memoir it is a short read and is entertaining, but as a definitive social commentary and solutions piece (which it seemed to be widely touted as) it fell very short of the mark for me. It isn't shocking that there are poor white people on welfare and that many find it distasteful, but is that the main reason Trump won in these areas?  I'm still far from clear and I didn't read any solutions that would "make america great again." 

Honestly I was expecting more anti-immigration, anti-right to choose, pro-gun rights, ant-gay rights positions to be discussed but if anything the only mentions of homosexuality seemed relatively neutral and some of the family seemed quite tolerant (respectively).  These all seem to be potentially major political issues in these areas, but seemingly no major discussion on these beliefs? 
« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 11:15:48 AM by trashmanz »

Nate R

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #51 on: February 16, 2017, 11:35:05 AM »
I also deeply agree with his perspective - a stable, non-fighting household engenders happiness and success. Vance was able to succeed in high school once he moved in with his grandmother.

I have not yet read the book, but have heard about it in a few places now.

The above statement is why I think "fixing" public schools is and will be VERY difficult to do. A great school doesn't fix  and often can't overcome a crummy home environment.

trashmanz

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #52 on: February 16, 2017, 01:20:31 PM »
I also deeply agree with his perspective - a stable, non-fighting household engenders happiness and success. Vance was able to succeed in high school once he moved in with his grandmother.

I have not yet read the book, but have heard about it in a few places now.

The above statement is why I think "fixing" public schools is and will be VERY difficult to do. A great school doesn't fix  and often can't overcome a crummy home environment.

Have no fear, DeVos is the best person for the job and will make America great again.  If anyone can improve the public school system, it has to be her.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #53 on: February 16, 2017, 01:31:10 PM »
I also deeply agree with his perspective - a stable, non-fighting household engenders happiness and success. Vance was able to succeed in high school once he moved in with his grandmother.

I have not yet read the book, but have heard about it in a few places now.

The above statement is why I think "fixing" public schools is and will be VERY difficult to do. A great school doesn't fix  and often can't overcome a crummy home environment.

There's actually a pretty good quote about that, in Hillbilly Elegy, that Vance got from one of his teachers. "...‘They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves."

tonysemail

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2017, 01:41:32 PM »
I just finished it a few minutes ago.  Maybe it was all the hype, but although it was an interesting rags to riches type of story I'm not sure what makes his story so groundbreaking?  True he isn't the typical Yale Law Grad, but every law school class typically has socioeconomically diverse selections.  All of it seemed sensible enough, seemed like a guy I would get along with ok with.  From the reviews I expected to gain some new insight into why Trump had so much support, but personally I didn't come away with any more insight than before. 

BTW, for further analysis of +&- of payday loans see: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/payday-loans/
I dont think it presented anything new. The insight into how mawmaw and her husband and family lived, hand to mouth and attemping to show they were not poor, was interesting. Also, how she showed her grandson to fight was, er, interesting.

The Glass Castle is a gem, as mentimed above, but it doesnt attempt to explain a whole group of people (coal moners who mve to the rustbelt.) Jeannette Walls parents were unique.

As a memoir it is a short read and is entertaining, but as a definitive social commentary and solutions piece (which it seemed to be widely touted as) it fell very short of the mark for me. It isn't shocking that there are poor white people on welfare and that many find it distasteful, but is that the main reason Trump won in these areas?  I'm still far from clear and I didn't read any solutions that would "make america great again." 

Honestly I was expecting more anti-immigration, anti-right to choose, pro-gun rights, ant-gay rights positions to be discussed but if anything the only mentions of homosexuality seemed relatively neutral and some of the family seemed quite tolerant (respectively).  These all seem to be potentially major political issues in these areas, but seemingly no major discussion on these beliefs?

it's a good book, but I think it says right in the Intro that it's just one man's story.
One of the things that surprised me is how anti-welfare the author is.
I went into the book thinking he would advocate for the poor .. for his community.
But I came out understanding that welfare is still very poorly looked upon as just another way to pay for drugs.
It runs completely against poverty research I've read.
And it also contradicts view that basic income will become necessary if robots take over all the good jobs.
For these reasons, I couldn't really buy into that part of the story either.

iris lily

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #55 on: February 17, 2017, 10:12:56 PM »
I also deeply agree with his perspective - a stable, non-fighting household engenders happiness and success. Vance was able to succeed in high school once he moved in with his grandmother.


...The above statement is why I think "fixing" public schools is and will be VERY difficult to do. A great school doesn't fix  and often can't overcome a crummy home environment.
Ditto.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 07:16:45 AM by iris lily »

Rural

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #56 on: February 18, 2017, 06:08:01 AM »
We had a book club focused on Hillbilly Elegy at the college where I teach (this is almost always attended only by faculty and administrators, and as usual there were no students at this one).


Everyone from somewhere else focused on how eye-opening it was and how "now I understand these people!"


Everyone from the local area - we are in the Appalachian mountains - talked about how deeply offensive it was. That included me. One short disclaimer in an introduction does not undo the damage of negative stereotypes and generalizations, some stated overtly, throughout the book itself.

This book will set the people of the region back several years in terms of equity and acceptance from other Americans.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 06:11:50 AM by Rural »

daverobev

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #57 on: February 18, 2017, 10:24:31 AM »
I found it a quick, interesting read; but not well written. Once he "gets out" and goes to university it's just a constant stream of superlatives for various people in his life (sister, partner, etc). Not interesting at that point.

It did open my eyes as some kind of explanation for the poor, white people of the world though; "blame everyone else" when the only people that can *fix* their problems are themselves.

As a race we need to provide as much support for people to get their own leg-up in life. So that there are well funded organisations there to help people whenever they are ready to learn how to help themselves.
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Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2017, 01:15:13 PM »
In a related vein has anyone read Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild? It usually comes up in the same conversations as Hillbilly Elegy. I've considering picking up one or the other from the library. If anyone has read both, which would you choose?

4alpacas

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #59 on: March 05, 2017, 06:04:50 PM »
In a related vein has anyone read Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild? It usually comes up in the same conversations as Hillbilly Elegy. I've considering picking up one or the other from the library. If anyone has read both, which would you choose?
I've read both, and I would recommend Strangers in Their Own Land.  However, the books are completely different. 

golden1

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #60 on: March 06, 2017, 01:46:15 PM »
I read it, and it was really interesting because it occurred to me that I am a generation removed from what he went through.  My grandparents on both sides could be considered "Hillbillies".  I think what brought my parents together was the fact that they were trying to escape that life.  Both were very bright, and both were the first in their families to go to college. 

One thing that sticks out to me about his experience, and tends to be typical of the people that escape these types of generational poverty situations is that 1) there is usually someone, somewhere along the way that loves, invests in and supports that person and pushes them to do more for themselves than they would otherwise have done.  In his case it was his mamaw.  2) He also was extremely bright. 3) He joined the Marines, which taught him work ethic and structure.  Who knows if he would have made it if one or all of these three had been missing.




zinnie

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #61 on: March 08, 2017, 10:01:20 PM »
Read it. Good read, but based on the reviews expected to LOVE it. Maybe just the timing is what made it so popular. I actually wasn't that impressed with the writing. But glad I spent the time on it and would recommend it.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #62 on: March 09, 2017, 07:54:42 AM »
I just got my copy from the library yesterday, and I'm about 35 pages in. I'm sort of amazed at how it's resonating. I'm totally WASP-y (at least by midwest standards), but my wife's background is very much in line with what he's describing, even down to the names for grandparents. I wish this had been written when we first started dating.
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AMandM

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #63 on: March 16, 2017, 09:19:50 AM »
I found it so engaging and fascinating that I read it in one shot.

One aspect that I fond particularly interesting, and that hasn't been mentioned yet here, is how even after he "made it," Vance still felt like an outsider.  He didn't have all the same social assumptions as his fellow lawyers.  It reminded me a lot of the immigrant experience, of my own experience as a Anglophone growing up in francophone Quebec, of the experiences of missionary/military/diplomatic children brought up outside their "home" country.

I thought he did a pretty good job of considering the ways in which policy could and could not help improve the situation of his hillbilly relatives.

Everyone from somewhere else focused on how eye-opening it was and how "now I understand these people!"

Everyone from the local area - we are in the Appalachian mountains - talked about how deeply offensive it was. That included me. One short disclaimer in an introduction does not undo the damage of negative stereotypes and generalizations, some stated overtly, throughout the book itself.

This book will set the people of the region back several years in terms of equity and acceptance from other Americans.

Interesting.  I am definitely "from somewhere else" (Vermont, California, Canada, China) and I had quite a different reaction.  The book gave me a clearer picture, I think, of hillbilly life, but I would not say "I understand these people" now.  If anything, I find some of their choices more baffling.  At the same time, the book certainly didn't worsen my opinion of them. Granted, I was already sympathetic, because I automatically sympathise with people despised by liberals; but my overall takeaway was not of negative generalizations.  For instance, Vance very vividly conveys how violent, foulmouthed people can simultaneously be inspiring sources of strength and support. 

He also shows how yes, some people make self-destructive choices, but the range of action open to many of them is also very limited. Perhaps most striking of all is the sense that while many people want a better life in some way, they can't clearly articulate what that means, much less identify the steps necessary to achieve it, in part because they've had so little exposure to anything different as a model to follow.  On that note I was pleased to hear Vance say in a radio interview that he and his wife (and now child) are planning to move back to Ohio.

iris lily

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #64 on: March 16, 2017, 11:13:44 AM »
Does the television series "Justified" give as good a view of hillbilly life as this book? The Walton Groggins character always referred to himself and his compatriats as "hillbillies."

Kinda kidding, kinda not kidding here.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #65 on: March 16, 2017, 11:25:00 AM »
Does the television series "Justified" give as good a view of hillbilly life as this book? The Walton Groggins character always referred to himself and his compatriats as "hillbillies."

Kinda kidding, kinda not kidding here.

Yes and no. There are a lot of parallels, but it's also highly dramatized (as you would expect).
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Lookilu

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #66 on: April 25, 2017, 09:56:16 AM »
The part of the book that resonated the most strongly for me was Vance's discussion of social capital--or the lack of it--that is a reality for many who do try to better their circumstances. As Vance explained in his TED talk:
"I didn't have access to that information because the social networks around me didn't have access to that information. I learned from my community how to shoot a gun, how to shoot it well. I learned how to make a damn good biscuit recipe. The trick, by the way, is frozen butter, not warm butter. But I didn't learn how to get ahead. I didn't learn how to make the good decisions about education and opportunity that you need to make to actually have a chance in this 21st century knowledge economy. Economists call the value that we gain from our informal networks, from our friends and colleagues and family "social capital." The social capital that I had wasn't built for 21st century America, and it showed."
https://www.ted.com/talks/j_d_vance_america_s_forgotten_working_class/transcript?language=en

It made me consider the my own experiences of putting myself through college. That was a very challenging time for me not because I was academically unprepared, or even because I often worked full-time and took a full course load, but because of the lack of any support or encouragement from others in my life. Mockery and ridicule were common reactions from family, friends, and coworkers. I can understand how it can be easier to give up or refuse to even try.

I recommend the book.   

marion10

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #67 on: April 25, 2017, 11:58:19 AM »
Social capital is so important. My sister has an law relative who lives with her and her husband who is getting her associates in radiology and wants to go on and get a BA. Her parents keep asking her when she is just going to come home.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #68 on: April 25, 2017, 12:20:19 PM »
Her parents keep asking her when she is just going to come home.

My wife has a Master's degree and a job at an R1 university. She still gets some of this.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

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Elderwood17

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #69 on: May 01, 2017, 02:20:06 PM »
I read it and found it fascinating and, in my personal case, helpful in my understanding many who I interact with on a regular basis.   I moved to the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina and struggled with the fact people wouldn't accept me fully just based on the fact I wasn't born here.  Being called a yankee (I am from Texas!) was definitely a new one for me! 

It is a good read and definitely recommended.

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #70 on: May 01, 2017, 02:45:22 PM »
We were just discussing it in my journal and most felt that it was over-hyped. I think it took on an importance disproportionate to its literary merits in the run up to the election and its aftermath.

I think the audiobook sounds like a college kid delivering a report.

Also, I think that it's fine as a memoir of his subjective experience, but that he's not a social scientist and should not be mistaken for one. I think maybe he mistook himself for one, too.

Evicted and The Unbanking of America are both better-researched looks at the economic underbelly.
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4alpacas

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #71 on: May 01, 2017, 05:37:54 PM »
We were just discussing it in my journal and most felt that it was over-hyped. I think it took on an importance disproportionate to its literary merits in the run up to the election and its aftermath.

I think the audiobook sounds like a college kid delivering a report.

Also, I think that it's fine as a memoir of his subjective experience, but that he's not a social scientist and should not be mistaken for one. I think maybe he mistook himself for one, too.

Evicted and The Unbanking of America are both better-researched looks at the economic underbelly.
I just added "The Unbanking of America" to my library list.  Evicted was added from the discussion in your own journal.

I mentioned the book up-thread, but I think "Strangers In Their Own Land" (written by a social scientist from UC Berkeley) is a better book to help bridge the political divide.  "Hillbilly Elegy" is an interesting memoir that had a well-timed publication date and well-executed media strategy. 

iris lily

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #72 on: May 05, 2017, 06:48:24 AM »
We were just discussing it in my journal and most felt that it was over-hyped. I think it took on an importance disproportionate to its literary merits in the run up to the election and its aftermath.

I think the audiobook sounds like a college kid delivering a report.

Also, I think that it's fine as a memoir of his subjective experience, but that he's not a social scientist and should not be mistaken for one. I think maybe he mistook himself for one, too.

Evicted and The Unbanking of America are both better-researched looks at the economic underbelly.

This Hillbilly book provided useful insights to me as a biography. i am sure that his anecdotes dont apply to all hillbilly families, but his story is a peek  into that culture. I wonder  if his editors encouraged him to broaden the material by making statements about migration patterns of those from Appalachia and their subsequent life in northern industrial cities as well as broader statements aboit addiction in families.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 06:48:40 AM by iris lily »

hoping2retire35

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #73 on: May 05, 2017, 08:36:33 PM »
Looks like I will get the cd version first. Excited.m

Elderwood17. People from Atlanta who move to our area are called "transplants (Yankee) so there you go.

Rural- curious if I will be offended or enlightened. I'll let you know.

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calimom

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #74 on: May 12, 2017, 07:42:43 PM »
It's interesting that J.D Vance is a Trump supporter. While there was plenty of bootstrappin' goin' on in them thar hills, the things he catalogs that helped his own family over the years: good union jobs, pensions, social security have been widely shunned by conservatives. Vance's mother's rehab was likely taxpayer funded and let's not forget his own tour of duty/GI Bill socialism with the U.S. military.

Is he yet another Republican hypocrite? Is it a backlash of living in liberal San Francisco as a lawyer, wanting to feel "apart" of the people who surround him. Does he actually believe Trump is some sort of savior for the poors?

Entertaining, provocative read though.

kite

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #75 on: May 12, 2017, 08:02:45 PM »
It's interesting that J.D Vance is a Trump supporter. While there was plenty of bootstrappin' goin' on in them thar hills, the things he catalogs that helped his own family over the years: good union jobs, pensions, social security have been widely shunned by conservatives. Vance's mother's rehab was likely taxpayer funded and let's not forget his own tour of duty/GI Bill socialism with the U.S. military.

Is he yet another Republican hypocrite? Is it a backlash of living in liberal San Francisco as a lawyer, wanting to feel "apart" of the people who surround him. Does he actually believe Trump is some sort of savior for the poors?

Entertaining, provocative read though.

Gross mischaracterization. 

4alpacas

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #76 on: May 12, 2017, 08:04:09 PM »
It's interesting that J.D Vance is a Trump supporter. While there was plenty of bootstrappin' goin' on in them thar hills, the things he catalogs that helped his own family over the years: good union jobs, pensions, social security have been widely shunned by conservatives. Vance's mother's rehab was likely taxpayer funded and let's not forget his own tour of duty/GI Bill socialism with the U.S. military.

Is he yet another Republican hypocrite? Is it a backlash of living in liberal San Francisco as a lawyer, wanting to feel "apart" of the people who surround him. Does he actually believe Trump is some sort of savior for the poors?

Entertaining, provocative read though.
At least this article says he didn't vote for Trump.

calimom

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #77 on: May 13, 2017, 12:30:26 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/07/hillbilly-elegy-by-jd-vance-review

Vance could  be playing both sides of the street to fuel his brand. He's definitely a conservative darling, and his book has  been read by "liberal coastal elites" as well, who presumably know the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are not many authors who can claim that, so hat's off to him.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #78 on: May 16, 2017, 06:40:56 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/07/hillbilly-elegy-by-jd-vance-review

Vance could  be playing both sides of the street to fuel his brand. He's definitely a conservative darling, and his book has  been read by "liberal coastal elites" as well, who presumably know the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are not many authors who can claim that, so hat's off to him.

I can't figure out if you (or others) think this is a bad thing ...
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

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calimom

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Re: Anyone read "Hillbilly Elegy"?
« Reply #79 on: May 24, 2017, 09:40:26 PM »
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/07/hillbilly-elegy-by-jd-vance-review

Vance could  be playing both sides of the street to fuel his brand. He's definitely a conservative darling, and his book has  been read by "liberal coastal elites" as well, who presumably know the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are not many authors who can claim that, so hat's off to him.

I can't figure out if you (or others) think this is a bad thing ...

I think it's just a thing.