Jun 19, 2016
We gathered at Roy's house last Tuesday for a novel combination (pun intended): we got to drink several varieties of Roy's bespoke moonshine while discussing Elmore Leonard's 1969 classic, The Moonshine War. Accompanying the gin, rye, and corn liquor was a sampling of white lightning (near-pure grain alcohol). In keeping with the novel's backwoods locale, Roy treated us to venison, boar, and goose--all hunted and dressed by the man himself. His black-eyed peas and bourbon ice cream were added evidence of Roy's commitment to a true moonshine evening. Bravo, Roy!
Our Review and Discussion of The Moonshine War
Set during Prohibition, Leonard's novel centers on an impoverished town where the main source of income for many is distilling or bootlegging liquor. With the arrival of a crooked internal revenue agent, everyone's livelihood is threatened, especially Son Martin's, as he's sitting on 150 barrels of the best hooch in western Kentucky. The story's "explosive" climax is foreshadowed the moment agent Long is discovered with a Remington in his valise. As Larry noted, Leonard presents the reader with an overt illustration of the literary principle known as Chekhov's Gun (i.e., if Act I features a gun hanging on the wall, Act III will invariably have it go off).
Though predictable in form, most agreed that Leonard's mastery of the genre (spare dialog, sharply-etched characters, a reluctant hero) makes his story both timeless and compulsively readable. According to Terry, The Moonshine War was the perfect summer read for our group. We agreed and readily voted 7's across the board.
Our next meeting is an evening BBQ at Tom's with spouses and significant others invited. Eschewing our democratic tradition, Tom has directed us to immerse ourselves in the purest of literary forms: the cowboy short story. And who better to render it than Annie Proulx! Next up is her acclaimed collection, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, featuring among other titles Brokeback Mountain.