The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


There's little room in this world for a moral man. Meet Early "Trenchmouth" Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nicknamed for his lifelong oral affliction.

His boyhood is shaped by the Widow Dorsett, a strong mountain woman who teaches him to hunt and survive the taunts of others.

In the hills of southern West Virginia, a boy grows up fast.

Trenchmouth sips moonshine, handles snakes, pleasures women, and masters the rifle - a skill that lands him in the middle of the West Virginia coal wars.

A teenaged union sniper, Trenchmouth is exiled to the backwoods of Appalachia's foothills, where he spends his years running from the past.

But trouble will sniff a man down, and an outlaw will eventually run home.

Here, Trenchmouth Taggart's story, like the best ballads, etches its mark deep upon the memory.




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Glenn Taylor has written an engaging addition to the "Americana" genre, that successfully avoids common pitfalls yet still brings some originality to the table. Trenchmouth Taggart is born in Virginia hills, and his life will encompass the better part of a century. Union ally, crack shot, writer, musician and more, his tale is taller than Robert Wadlow. I enjoy this Twain-esque sub-genre, but there's no denying its population often stumbles under the weight of burdensome prose that's all shine and no structure. Taylor, thankfully, does a brisk trade in simile and his writing is probably one of the defining pleasures of the book. He never sacrifices accuracy for colour - and he skirts cliche with facility. I suppose it also helps that - for all the hyperbole of these folk tales - he has a keen insight in people, and isn't afraid to root parts of his story in quieter realities. Indeed, this inner contrast, an understanding that even in stories like this, some things need to be smaller as well as larger than life, kept my interest towards the end as the narrative started to peter out. By that stage, I was attached to Trenchmouth and the other characters. I can't deny, I probably would have enjoyed a novel that dealt more thoroughly with just *one* chapter of Trenchmouth's fabled life, but these books don't offer that, and you have to take them as they are. Short, sharp, fun, and well-written, you could do a lot worse.