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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ballad with a difference
This novel is divided into three sections as we read the tale of Trenchmouth Taggart. It's the early part of the story which I enjoyed best as it had me rapidly reading on, but as the story develops I felt that the style changed and I didn't enjoy it as much even though it was still a good read.
The book cover quotes similarities to John Irving and I have to say that...
Published on 27 July 2010 by A Smile and a Wave

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Started well but tailed off for me.
A tale that was mixed in with real events got me interested. The character Trenchmouth I couldn't really empathise much with so as the story carried on I tended to lose a bit of interest to be honest.
The story was something different as the title suggests, quite Hill billy stuff.
I read the book right through as it was my wifes choice at our book club!
Not...
Published 6 months ago by Tony Bendall


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ballad with a difference, 27 July 2010
By 
A Smile and a Wave (UK) - See all my reviews
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This novel is divided into three sections as we read the tale of Trenchmouth Taggart. It's the early part of the story which I enjoyed best as it had me rapidly reading on, but as the story develops I felt that the style changed and I didn't enjoy it as much even though it was still a good read.
The book cover quotes similarities to John Irving and I have to say that does ring true for the first half of the book at least, with some small similarities to Irving's most recent novel Last Night in Twisted River, but only a little as Trenchmouth doesn't go nearly as deep with either characterisation or story development. For anyone who enjoys John Irving (or just a good story) then it would certainly be worth trying this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant, 31 Jan 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Every now and then a book comes along that blows you out of the water, and this is one of those. Hearing that it was like John Irving, an author whose books I love I thought I would give this a try, and I wasn't disappointed. We are led through an odyssey that is the life of 'Trenchmouth' Taggart, from where his mother threw him in the river at a couple of months old, through his adoption by Widow Dorsett and onto the present day at a 108 years of age.

And what a life 'Trenchmouth' has lived. Growing up in southern West Virginia he is a real hillbilly, and is taught hunting and tracking at an early age by the Widow, who also makes moonshine. Finding out that he can make money in his teens by servicing women with his tongue and joining a 'holy-roller' church with talking in tongues and snake handling our hero has seen most things. When the coal wars hit Virginia in the 1920's 'Trenchmouth' is there shooting at the company hired thugs. Taking part in a bloodbath eventually leads to someone else being convicted of the deaths that he caused and he is forced into exile, becoming a wildman in the Appalachians.

Reappearing after twenty four years 'Trecnchmouth' changes his name and becomes a musician and then a journalist, playing with Chuck Berry, getting a sandwich from Hank Williams, and interviewing JFK, as well as winning a Pulitzer. But the past has a way of catching up with you and our hero has to disappear again, eventually reappearing again under another name.

This book is hard to put down and is divided into books. The prologue and epilogue are in the present. The first book is 1903-1921, then we come back on to the second book, which is 1946-1961. The third and last book is 1989-1993 where we find how much the area has changed over the years. This is M Glenn Taylor's first novel that was originally published in America in 2008. It is sure to become a hit over here with anyone who loves a good story, and it also has that touch of quirkiness to it, just like John Irving's work. I would recommend this to anyone, and I know that I will be re-reading it many times over the coming years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Story, 28 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (Paperback)
M Glenn Taylor is more than a great story teller, he is a spinner of yarns and that's what makes this book such a great read. Yes, it is the ballad of a man's long, adventurous life, spanning more than a 100 years, but it's more than that, it's an incredible romp through the backwoods of West Virginia and the changing face of 20th century America.

It entwines fiction with fact, weaving the story of Trenchmouth's life with historical sequences to create a character who experiences many events that shaped the USA.

The book is peopled with endearing and interesting fictional characters, whilst Trenchmouth's meetings with Chuck Berry, Hank Williams and JFK add to the entertainment.

In Trenchmouth Taggart, Taylor has created a truly memorable character. A loveable rogue, an adventurer, sometimes charismatic, sometimes eccentric, always intriguing.

Great story telling, a real page-turner, highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, 25 Jun 2011
By 
James N. Beatson "Jim Beatson" (Basingstoke, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (Paperback)
What a marvellous novel! A breath of fresh air from hugely talented writer. Trenchmouth is a truly memorable character in a book I couldn't put down. A tour-de-force.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by Glenn Taylor, 14 Jun 2011
By 
V. L. Harding (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (Paperback)
Glenn Taylor, a new kid on the block, but on the evidence of this book he will be around for a long time. Taggart's story from infancy to a grand age of 108 is slightly reminiscent of Thomas Berger's "Little Big Man" regarding the longevity of the main character.
The year is 1903 when baby Taggart is rescued from the river by Widow Dorsett and brought up with her adopted daughter in a shack located in an isolated area of the mountains of West Virginia. Widow Dorsett was an independent woman, she hunted game with her rifle, cured ailments, and grew vegatables. She also ran a moonshine still, supplying liquor to a middle man who sold on to the local community, mainly farmers and miners. Taggart has several varied careers during his life time, his early years growing up in a mining environment during the struggle to establish a Union forms the basis of his story. As a young man of 23 he is involved in the gunfight at the Matewan railyards between the Baldwin-Felts strike enforcers acting as deputies and evicting miners and their families from their homes and the local sheriff defending the miners. A powerful section of the book, on a par with John Sayles celebrated film "Matewan" in its depiction of the harsh and violent times when John L Lewis was forming the Union and battling the forces of the coal owners backed by corrupt sections of local government. Afterwards to avoid imprisonment Taggart lives as a hermit in the mountains for 25 years living off the land. When he returns he takes up with a group playing mountain music and blues in gigs all over the state. Later he joins a small town newspaper writing articles on local recipes and topics and making a name for himself with his offbeat views.
The author's love of mountain music, the mountains of West Virginia and the people who live there pervades the books pages and he has used Trenchmouth Taggart to express it. I commend it
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cunnilinguist tells his life story, 2 May 2011
By 
Michael Furey "thefurey" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (Paperback)
'Trenchmouth...' opens as he's interviewed as the oldest person, 108, in Virginia. Since he's just sewn up his mouth with heavy-duty fishing line, it sounds difficult. But don't believe it, this old man is tough. To survive from 1903 to 2010, he had to be. Without giving away the plot and ruining your enjoyment, he's a woodsman, killer, cunnilinguist, journalist and musician.

One of the blurbs on the jacket says it a page-turner; that's putting it mildly. When I'd finished it, I felt like starting over again. It's a strange book with a lot of odd humour, sadness and anger; I've already read it twice and I'm about ready to start again. If you have any wish for a run through the history of the (sorry-arsed) state of Virginia in the 20th century, this is a good start. I bought two copies because I know it won't return home if I lend it out. That's probably the best recommendation I can make.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine story telling, 25 April 2011
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart (Paperback)
The basic thing to say about M Glenn Taylor is that he is a damn fine story teller. He peoples his world with interesting and endearing characters and then fits them into a coherent, if at times fantastical, plot which cracks along at an admirable pace.

Stylistically this is a century long saga which resembles the works of Peter Carey or John Irving. In fact Taylor twice knowingly and cheekily references Little Big Man, a clear influence on this work.

Trenchmouth Taggart is abandoned to a river at birth by his mentally disturbed mother and is subsequently brought up by the moonshine-making "Widow". It is the river which infects his mouth and gives him an oral affliction and his nickname, and the widow's moonshine which brings him solace.

Through his picareque career he is at various times as speaker in togues at an evangelical church, an oral pleasurer of repressed gentlewomen, a sniper defending striking miners against company thugs, a backwoods hermit, a harmonica player, and an award winning journalist.

Taylor is very much a writer of the American left, here defending community and organised labour against the forces of capital, and a vigourous supporter of inter-racial equality and tolerance. He is however, no faint-hearted liberal, his heroes are people of action, using violence to defend their communities, even if our hero "TT" never really escapes the psychological scars which his own violence inflicts on him.

That is not to say Taylor is a dull, polemical writer. He is at heart, a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns, skilful at portraying the often complex relationships between his characters. Some of the writing is also extremely touching. An encounter in jail between TT and childhood friend Arly Jr is heartbeaking, and TT's own death at the end of the novel is beautifully handled.

Some of the strengths of this book stretch into weaknesses. It is a big, bold, barely believable (in fact it playfully questions its own veracity) saga but also commendably concise. Actually, I wouldn't have been unhappy if the book were longer, that would have avoided at least one yawning great gap in the narrative. Also at time credulity is stretched a little too far. The speed with which our hero goes from hermit to successful musician, back to hermit and then to Pulitzer-winning newspaperman and interviewer of JFK was a step further than I was prepared to suspend disbelief.

Overall, however, this is a massively entertaining first novel, and thoroughly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting novel, 16 April 2010
By 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very well written novel. Trenchmouth is an interesting and charismatic character, "a one-time inventor, snake handler, cunnilinguist, sniper, woodsman, harmonica man and newspaperman", whose experiences (over his 108-year life) allows the author to explore the impact of modernisation on Southern traditions and way of life. The first half of the novel details Trenchmouth's childhood and service and actions in the Coal Wars (on the side of the striking miners), when he was the above-mentioned sniper, followed by his long, lonely flight into the mountains. He's an intriguing person, and Taylor stitches together historical sequences to create an overall fascinating picture of a very strange, but fascinating man.

Taylor has a real gift for describing the environment and the wilderness his scenes are set in, and his writing style is evocative throughout - the pace is good, and you'll find yourself pulled along by the narrative and Trenchmouth's eccentricities. The pace flags only a little when he comes to the latter parts of the novel (although, by now we'll understand the meanings behind the narrative, the battle between corporations and ecologists/interests).

He plays with tradition and standard "novel" writing to good effect, making this book an engaging, interesting and mostly satisfying read. This is a good attempt, to use the author's words, to write a "myth for empowering the underdogs among us". Unlike anything else I've read, this was a refreshing alternative to what else is big and promoted out there in today's publishing environment.

Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Trenchant, 4 Feb 2010
By 
Donald Thompson "waldo357" (Belfast N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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It takes a special type of bravura to mention the name of a movie which most resembles your novel in the first few pages. What follows has to be good, or else you will suffer in comparison. When the movie in question is "Little Big Man" you get a fair idea of what to expect. Covering the remarkble 108 year life of Early Taggart the story is a trawl through the darker side of Western Virginia in all its glory. Taggart is central to so many things, but peripheral to history, from the mine wars of the 1920's to the birth of Rock and Roll to the rise of the modern gang culture and Eco Activism that he is never less than interesting. Taking in moonshine, racism, the blues, hippies the tale is never dull, using the device of having our hero disappear into the woods for years at a time M. Glenn Taylor tells us about the changing nature of rural America, backwoods even. Whilst never moralising, the story allows you to see the dark side of the simple life. In the end Taggart is a character you would like to have bben real, if only to talk to him for a while.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ...snake charmers anonymous..., 25 Feb 2010
By 
Mr. H "Mr H" (Embra) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Now this was a good one, even if it's a bit close to some other stories of yore. However, that's forgivable as you get drawn into the life of Early 'Trenchmouth' Taggart, a life that spans one hundred and eight years.

His story takes you from the hills of South Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century, and takes a trip through moonshine, snake handling, a Grizzly Adams type period, rock and roll, Chuck Berry and the Kennedys. Which is a fair whack to get through. But it's an utterly addictive story, well written and definitely one of those rare books you genuinely can't put down.

'Trenchmouth' Taggart is a man that life seems to enjoy dealing an unusual hand to, but through ups, downs, ups and more downs, he holds fast to his beliefs and sense of who he is. An absolute gem that deserves all the praise coming its way.
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The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by Glenn Taylor (Paperback - 2 Sep 2010)
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