30 November 2009

READ: Lee Mayard - Crum

Lee Mayard's novel Crum is a great read, despite the fact that it was banned from Tamarack, the "Best of West Virginia" shopping mall of state-made (overpriced) arts.

Crum is a coming-of-age story is about a teenage boy growing up in the town of Crum in Wayne County, West Virginia. Maynard's biographical character finds himself in all kinds of mischief involving pranks, fights and sex. The book got banned not because its protagonist's sexist, mischievous and cynical behaviors. Nor because it is chock-full of offensive language and scenes. Crum was banned because its about West Virginia and therefore plays up the hillbilly stereotype that plagues the state.

Bullshit. It's not a stereotype and Lee Maynard knows that. This story is about the reality of rural life in West Virginia - but even more so the life of any ornery adolescent boy. Maynard on being banned: "[Banning books] has never worked. All it does is serve to bring attention to something that you didn't want attention brought to. I love those people who try to ban books. We need some stupid people like that around to keep us in check."

Though not the best written novel set in the hills of West Virginia, Crum is casual, often absurd, and sometimes scatological. But it always entertaining and even informative on what life in the coalfields is/was like - and how in a place so easy to get stuck, how individuals long and struggle to breakaway.

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