KENTUCKIANA BOOK REVIEWS
An exceptional gem that covers a lot more about “America” than its title would lead you to believe ! While there are the usual humorous rural small town fables you would expect there are also some exceptionally poignant analyses of the so called national fabric of the heartland such as the incompetence and corruption of “local police” for one !
The author’s quick mind and “take no prisoners” attitude may sometimes give pause but he is not to be taken lightly as just another academic with nothing else to do but “write” about his rustic inferiors . He lives and works among the “folk”.
As a returning Hoosier expatriate myself and a resident of Brown County this book causes a chuckle and then that moment to reflect on what is happening to us as a country and a people !
J. L. Kipp
A captivating read; cynical, irreverent and hilarious. Kentuckiana Roads explores the anthropological and geographic nuances of Small Town America. Urban born and raised, Rick Hofstetter, an attorney and historic preservationist recounts his journey as the purchaser and owner of an abandoned pre-Civil War village.
Think Frances Mayes or Peter Mayle—only in rural Southern Indiana. It’ll have you chuckling to yourself all the way up to the “surprise ending”, which is somehow reminiscent of a Dave Chappelle skit… Definitely worth reading all the way through.
Looking forward to more from this author!
Lovers of all things Hoosier should rush out to get a copy of “KENTUCKIANA ROADS – A Freidenkers Story of Life in America’s Flyover Middle.” It’s by my good friend Richard Hofstetter, owner of the Story Inn and, in fact, the whole village of Story from which much of this historical and hysterical volume originates. Full disclosure: Rick has generously and we hope wisely dedicated the book to my wife and me and is kind enough to weave his winely portions around some of our adventures together.
Released this month by Algora Publishing of New York, a company specializing in non fiction “for the nonplussed,” the book’s 210 pages take you through the unique cultures of those who live where Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana come together and however much the three have in common it’s their quirky distinctions that make for compelling reading. It’s hard to believe that open space, farmland, forests, hills, and rivers centered between three enormous state universities can divulge so much about an otherwise forgotten and overlooked civilization.
There are chuckles on every page as we learn how the political parties work (or don’t), how the Bible Theme Park thrives among the distilleries and meth labs, and how clapboard churches get involved in a blessing for Harleys.
April 1 is Election Day in Story, the day when the place installs into office its only elected official — The Village Idiot, who will serve for one year. It’s said that when Millard Fillmore signed the land-grant for Dr. Story he said only an idiot would want to live out there. Hofstetter is the first to confess that Story is the only place that admits it elects an idiot.
But the book is no April Fool’s prank, and wine lovers will get an inside look at how the Indiana Wine Fair was born. KENTUCKIANA is available from Amazon and other on-line book sellers. Hard cover: $31.95, soft cover $21.95, e-book $21.95. ISBN: 978-1-62894-267-5 (soft); 978-1-62894- 268-2 (hard); 978-1-62894- 269-9 (e-book). Enjoy!
Allen Dale “Ole” Olson
Kentuckiana Roads is Rick Hofstetter’s hot-off-the-press monograph about life in a particular region of the Midwest. It belongs to a plurality of genres including travel guide, autobiography, commentary both social and political, history, and humor. Hofstetter analyzes with great insight the character and behavior of those, including himself, living in a part of the United States defined thus:
“To the south of the LGM [Last Glacier Maximum] lies “Kentuckiana,” a territory that extends beyond the Ohio River well into bourbon country, and embraces Louisville, and by most accounts, the fringes of Cincinnati.” (Kentuckiana Roads 14)
To get the most from the architecture and arguments of the book, read chapter one in its entirety, familiarize yourself with the geological and anthropological grounding, then prepare to be both entertained and educated for over 150 pages. The author styles himself as an 18th century free thinker, and has the intellectual wherewithal to back up his claims. You will lament with Hofstetter the misfortunes of unemployment, police brutality, and drug addiction as he discusses each with candor and covert compassion. But you will laugh with him as he provides delightful clarity in discussions ranging from taxation to reproduction.
“It appears that our race is the product of surreptitious matings, and we have the brains to show for it.” (p. 115)
“Our tax code, and accompanying regulations to clarify it, being too complex for even Einstein to comprehend, inevitably leads to implementation and enforcement that is arbitrary and capricious. (p. 95)
In Kentuckiana–also known as ‘Southern Indiana’–Rick Hofstetter combines travelog, memoir and social history to paint a portrait of his environment and community as a microcosm of our country in a time of crisis, marbled with traditions sometimes beautiful and sometimes poisonous but always remarkable and peculiar. Moving across discourses, Hofstetter brings the region into occasionally hilarious and sometimes disturbing high-resolution–moving from the land and ecology, to cultural history, to economics, to political discontents and shenanigans in his meditations. The wry sense of humour of humor lacing up the exercise makes the material–both the good and the bad–palatable. From this perspective we get a vision of the region and of our country not as a good or a bad place, but as a place that is reliably entertaining.
In 210 historical and hysterical pages, Richard Hofstetter gives us a chuckle on all 210 of them as we learn how, in this rustic space surrounded by three huge universities, the political parties work (or don’t), how a Bible Theme Park thrives amid distilleries and meth labs and how clapboard churches get involved in a blessing for Harleys. In this place where Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio come together, Hofstetter blends their commonalities and interprets their individual quirks. There is a unique culture in the Ohio River Valley.
Dr. Allen Dale “Ole” Olson
There’s an utter dearth of intelligent books dealing with America’s forgotten flyover middle. “Kentuckiana Roads” fills that gap. The author is a Duke-educated lawyer, also with degrees in Political Science and History, who bought an entire small town almost 20 years ago and became an innkeeper. Only Hofstetter could have pulled off this mélange of genres successfully. Though highly entertaining and humorous, at the book’s core is a serious discussion of the US Constitution, replete with proposed amendments that could well save this country from disintegration. Buy this book and laugh, but take it seriously.
Favorite quote: “While we’re at it, let’s prevent Congressmen and women from naming bridges, roads and airports after themselves, or collecting a pension after they’ve been sentenced to prison for crimes they committed in office”.
Rick Hofstetter’s most entertaining and penetrating book affords a past and present record of a bypassed section our nation’s heartland. His bold and amusing descriptions of the local and often feral residents and his intermittent rants provide delightful reading throughout. In his portrayal of his town of Story and his Story Inn, the raconteur Hofstetter relates numerous comic anecdotes and self reflections. Above all, he has created a record of the multihued lives of Kentuckiana folk so that our nation’s story may truly be told and preserved.
Kentuckiana Roads was a pleasant surprise, a glimpse at a peculiar culture that brought us Trumpism. No one’s laughing at the election results, but Hofstetter’s wry wit and brutal sarcasm makes this book a wonderful companion to Hillbilly Elegy. Think of a mopey Greek Tragedy, followed by Aristophanes.