This month, MTV premiered its newest reality show, Buckwild, which is being widely touted as the “redneck Jersey Shore” — with a little bit of Jackass thrown in there for good measure. Set in West Virginia (whose senator Joe Manchin has fought against the show), Buckwild follows the exploits of six girls and three boys growing up in a small town in Appalachia, doing their best to get into trouble. Here’s what we think: yawn. If you feel the urge to watch this silly show, we have a better idea for you — pick up one of these books. Our reading list will give you a dose of Appalachian culture, hillbilly antics and redneck voyeurism, and you won’t have to feel badly about it after.
Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place, Scott McClanahan
McClanahan’s frenetic account of life growing up in rural West Virginia practically seethes with place, with empathy, with humor and violence and the boringness/incredibleness of being young. Split into very short stories populated by weirdly lovable characters, this is redneck poetry that’s not redneck at all. Any one of McClanahan’s dam-bursting sentences will make anything those Buckwild kids say sound dull as ditchwater. Forthcoming from Two Dollar Radio.