Casey's latest novel is listed as a non-fiction book, but it is more along the lines of a very well written novel based on family stories passed down over the generations regarding his ancestor, Columbus Clabough. While many of the events in the book are based on fact, he realizes some may be tall tales, but worth telling nonetheless.
This is a slim novel that I tore through in 2 days, which with my schedule actually isn't that easy, but the story grabbed hold and wouldn't let go. Casey knows how to set time and place amazingly well and provide visuals that place you right into the middle of the story. You can hear the dialogue and smell the air.
This is not a happy story. There are tiny glimpses of happy but they are few and far between. Columbus doesn't lead an easy life, nor does anyone on this mountain land. Their lives are hard and often violent. Nature and religion are the only balms for the soul.
Columbus' story involves witchery, moonshine, hostage situations, timber wars and the real war that lands him overseas hunting Germans. The other characters involved are his fiance who becomes bitter over time and a preacher whose life intersects with theirs, in more ways than one.
Columbus leads a somewhat charmed life in that his particular set of skills tends to lead him toward personal safety for most of his "adventures", but those same skills cannot help him as he watches the loss of friends, loss of home life and what affects him the most - the loss of his way of life and the land that he loved.
A very well written story that I recommend.
Little Curlew Press
Click HERE for an excerpt
OverviewSouthern writer Casey Clabough revisits the hardscrabble life of ancestor Columbus Clabough: the last of his family to live by the old Smoky Mountain ways — ways unsuited to a modern world. In the wake of run-ins with bootleggers and Overhill Cherokee, Columbus departs to serve his country in World War I, only to return and find the mountains and himself afflicted by ravages not unlike those witnessed overseas. Bringing us into a vanished world of red wolves, chestnuts, and human way of life long forgotten, Clabough offers a powerful narrative that captures the life of his great uncle — a life so strongly linked to the land that it reflects the changes and sufferings of the mountains.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards The American Chestnut Foundation.