"Before our serious addiction, we never smoked alone, and our experience with tobacco was shaped by all sorts of conventions."

Across more than 30 essays, the author of this collection reflects on a history spent largely in Appalachian Ohio where he taught, wrote, gardened, etc., working jobs which have enabled him to reminisce on a rich, multi-faceted life. Weaving small-town perspectives in with a learned, worldly appreciation for history and culture, it’s as common to see a Yeats quote in this book as it is to read an emotional ode to a weathered pick-up truck. Each of these short essays covers a single topic which corresponds thematically to either the title or the subtitle of the book, perhaps dealing with a job that needs doing in order to shape the culture of a region, capturing the lifestyle of an era, or just providing enough emotional inspiration and contemplation to keep people striving to greater creative heights.

Hague’s skill as a poet shines in each of these essays, as the prose form still provides ample opportunity for him to select perfect vocabulary, play with conventions, and bring these people, places, and events to life. That appreciation and mastery of language is constantly apparent through the author’s own crafting as well as meticulously curated quotes, poems, and references, not leaned on as a crutch to draw a connection with the reader but applied to achieve maximum description the way one would put on the perfect song to set any mood. These essays are playful, reverent, personal, universal, and always well-written and entertaining. Anyone with a love for the art of composing in the written word, or those that just prefer to lend an ear to a fantastic storyteller, will be spellbound with this skillful collection.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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