Corporate powers take on the gritty and inimitable coal miners of Snooker Glen, Ky., during the strike of 1972.
A message penned by a former resident introduces Snooker Glen, a small town in Kentucky’s eastern coalfields. The occupants of Snooker Glen–some humorous, some cranky and nearly all struggling–must choose sides in a strike, an event that grows uglier by the day. If anyone knows strife and loss, it’s Gawonii, the ghost of a Native American who lived in the area long before the white man–but he doesn’t pick sides. Not so for the other townsfolk, namely Randy Snooker and Esther Mae Owens, the woman with whom Randy has had an on-again, off-again relationship since they were kids. The couple is pulled dangerously into the strike, a battle that pits the town against the East German scabs shipped in illegally. The situation worsens because of mining company president Glen Corbett, who, like Esther and Randy, is not one for backing down. Snooker Glen’s central characters are strong, animated and memorable. Nevertheless, it’s taxing to keep track of the huge cast, particularly as the focus of the narrative switches from the strike, to the difficulty of raising children, to the ghost Gawonii, to Randy and Esther’s strained relationship and back again. The numerous scenes written in the characters’ natural vernacular add another unwieldy element for the reader. For example, when Esther visits her good friend Bessie, there are paragraphs of dialogue that read this way: â€œCain’t reckon they’ll last more â€˜n the winter. But that’s all we wuz ever to expect.”
Tension is high as community and corporate power go toe-to-toe in this rural narrative.