Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rest in Peace, Joe Bageant

It pained me so much to hear about the death of Winchester, Va., native Joe Bageant that I turned my face to the wall and refused to study on it, such a loss he is to what David Fellerath calls "radical underground journalism."

It's Fellerath's tribute that I just came across, one of those "wish I'd said that" moments, that now lets me grieve in public.

It was Bageant's 2007 book, "Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America's Class War," that made me a huge and endearing fan, though I'd run across some of his self-defined "redneck socialism" before.

We corresponded a bit. I invited him to come to Boone and give a speech. I didn't know at the time that he was already suffering from cancer. He never mentioned any illness but said this:
There's nothing I'd rather do more. I LOVE Boone! ... HOWEVER, please don't write me off. My new book, Rainbow Pie, is the last one I intend on writing. Then I'll have time to do things like go to Boone, Eastern Kentucky...and a whole lotta other places where a hillbilly can ease his troubled mind among kin and kilth. (My mama's people are from North Carolina)....

That last book, "Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir," was published in Australia late in 2010 and is now listed on

I'll read that book, and I'll toast the memory of a great American hell-raiser who loved poor people and understood and sympathized with them like very few others.

I found what I originally wrote here about "Deer Hunting with Jesus" back in 2007. I don't take back a word of it.


Anonymous said...

Both this post and your 2007 post (which I went back and re-read) are wonderful. Thanks so much for writing them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, JW. We have recommended "Deer Hunting" to many people since reading it in 2007. Invaluable insights for us "liberal elites." RIP

Beth said...

I bought the first book today, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Opinionated said...

Just read an essay of his, "America: Y ur peeps b so dum?". The man was a genius, and I could not agree more with every bit of what he wrote in it.

Thanks, Joe.