Get a Brazilian

Maggie Doherty

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
    William Collins, 257 pp, £9.99, June 2017, ISBN 978 0 00 822056 3
  • The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison
    Granta, 544 pp, £20.00, May, ISBN 978 1 78378 152 2
  • How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir by Cat Marnell
    Ebury, 384 pp, £7.99, February, ISBN 978 0 09 195736 0
  • Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton
    Fig Tree, 336 pp, £12.99, February, ISBN 978 0 241 32271 0
  • This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
    Harper Collins, 272 pp, £10.99, February, ISBN 978 0 06 266615 4
  • Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcolm Harris
    Little Brown, 272 pp, £18.99, February, ISBN 978 0 316 51086 8
  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
    Hutchinson, 385 pp, £14.99, February, ISBN 978 1 78633 051 2

J.D. Vance begins Hillbilly Elegy, his memoir of growing up poor in the American Midwest, with a confession: ‘I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve accomplished nothing great in my life, certainly nothing that would justify a complete stranger paying money to read about it … I wrote this book because I’ve achieved something quite ordinary, which doesn’t happen to most kids who grow up like me.’ Vance was raised in a ‘hillbilly’ family. According to Vance, hillbillies have a lot to recommend them – they’re patriotic, loyal, family-oriented, ‘the toughest goddamned people on this earth’ – but they’re also pessimistic, isolated, suspicious of outsiders, and, these days, prone to drug abuse and despair. A kid ‘with a grim future’, Vance could have easily ended up dead of an opioid overdose; instead he graduated from Yale Law School, the ‘coolest thing I’ve done’. He attributes his success to old-fashioned self-discipline, which he learned at the feet of his grandmother, Mamaw, and perfected in the marines. Unlike those in his hometown who had kids young, or who were worn down by menial jobs, he fulfilled what he calls the American Dream. By the end of the book, he has a house, a happy marriage, two dogs, a job at a venture capital firm – and distance from his humble origins.

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