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American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land (Kobo eBook)

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Recommended Summer reading by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, and Elle.

A breathtaking feat of reportage, American Fire combines procedural with love story, redefining American tragedy for our time.

The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9781631490521
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: July 11th, 2017
Language:

Third Monday in May

 

From the publisher:

"In this richly imaginative debut novel, the first running of the Kentucky Derby serves as the backdrop for a story of what might have been had Abraham Lincoln survived his assassination and lived to retire with Mary to Springfield.  Derby historian Ross R. Moore provides an accurate account of the origins of the famous race, while creating a detailed and entirely plausible world through which the Lincoln's journey to Louisville to meet old friends and to face another deadly threat.  Part horse racing saga, part travelogue, part historical fantasy, part suspense thriller, chock full of sly bits of "stealth history" befitting its educator author, and peopled with memorable characters both real and imaginary, the result is an entertaining and engaging yarn and rewarding read."

Ross R. Moore is an educator, storyteller, and singer-songwriter living in San Diego.  A native of Kentucky where he attended Murray State University and the University of Louisville, he was for several years a museum educator at the Kentucky Derby Museum, sharing the history of the race with visitors. Now he brings this story to a wider audience, drawing upon his knowledge of Derby lore to form the backdrop of this, his first novel.

New Novel about Crawfish Bottom

Book cover: Concerning the Matter of the King of Craw a story by Ron Rhody

Local author, Ron Rhody has written a new novel "Concerning the Matter of the King of Craw" about the infamous John Fallis.

Ron is author of the "Theo" books about Frankfort.

Author Ron Rhody and store owner Lizz Taylor

Ron Rhody was in the store to sign copies of his new book recently.

So we have a limited quantity of signed copies of King of Craw that would make great presents.