Sunday, June 15, 2014

"HILL OF BEANS"--author John Snyder's remarkable memories of "Coming of Age in the Last Days of the Old South"

Hill of Beans: Coming of Age in the Last Days of the Old South  

HILL OF BEANS  by John Snyder 

This memoir of growing up in the Old South during the Depression evokes a time gone by.  And while it is a loving memoir, it is populated by real people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence–including a mysterious case of arson that forever changed John Snyder’s life. 

Hill of Beans has been compared by publishing professionals to the seminal writers like William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and even Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The early comments of John Snyder’s remarkable, poignant account of growing up in Depression era South Carolina are in and they are glowing:

“This is great stuff, extremely well remembered. There can’t be many memories left of this time and place, and these are richly told.”… Roy Blount, Jr. humorist and author of 22 books including Crackers, Be Sweet and Alphabet Juice.

“John Snyder has conjured up a vanished world. The hardscrabble South he depicts in this beautifully evocative memoir calls to mind Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. It’s a work of inspired anthropology, rich in folklore, and a work of literature.”—James Atlas, author of Bellow: A Biography and a memoir My Life in the Middle Ages.

“An absorbing and moving exploration of the effect of environment on character.” Jonathan Galassi

“John Snyder writes beautifully and evocatively of a time, a moment in history, and of the people in a way that makes you feel as if you are right alongside him. I loved this book.”—Kathy Pories, Senior editor, Algonquin Books

“If you had the sort of adventurous, bittersweet childhood that many children only dream about after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books in school, John  Snyder’s Hill of Beans will be irresistible. From the tremendous, larger-than-life father to the stiflingly cruel Aunt Bess, Snyder transmits the images and feelings of a unique childhood wonderfully.”—Lydia Crowe, University of Iowa

“As spellbinding, nuanced, intricate, evocative, and absorbing as his highly crafted metal-and-wood sculptures, John Snyder’s magical, magnificent Hill of Beans is a swirling, recursive American Journey through the rivers and woods and fields of a boy’s formative years, along highways of perception, memory, language, and expression, asking what it means to imagine, yearn, experience, and love.”–David M. Darst, investment analyst and author of six books, including The Art of Asset Allocation and The Little Book that Saves Your Assets


John Snyder grew up in North and South Carolina, attended the University of Chicago, and moved to New York City in 1959. Recently retired as an Executive Director of Morgan Stanley, he previously worked as a buyer at Bloomingdales, and head of research for a carpet manufacturer. Along the way, he was awarded 7 patents, made an industrial film that won first place in the New York Film Festival, and wrote 2 off-Broadway plays. Throughout his working career he maintained a machine shop for making prototypes of inventions and turning found objects into sculpture. He continues to make sculpture (, and has written this memoir. He and his wife divide their time between New York City and Cedar Mountain, North Carolina.  

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