Economy

At BGSU, Clarence Page reflects on Middletown & “Hillbilly Elegy”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clarence Page is a story teller. That’s what all good journalists are, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner said. On Thursday at Bowling Green State University, though, he reflected on someone else’s story, J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” Vance’s book has been selected as the university’s Common Read. Page was invited to BGSU to discuss Vance’s book. Meant to bring everyone together to read the same book and spark discussion, this year’s selection has done the trick. Social media is full of commentary on the book, and even its appropriateness as the Common Read. “Hillbilly Elegy” arrived at the same time as Donald Trump was elected to office, and many reviewers touted it as the book to read if you wanted to understand Trump voters. Vance takes a hard look at his people, who feel displaced in America and are plagued by dysfunctional families and unemployment. This demographic is the most pessimistic of any in the country.  Poor whites are more pessimistic than poor blacks. “Maybe because we’re used to it.” Page, who like Vance comes from Middletown, Ohio, said the book gave him a look at what was happening on the white side of town. Page noted he started out as “colored,” and has been a Negro, black, African-American, before now being a person of color. His family, he said, was “po’” because, according to his father, they were too poor to afford the “or.” But,…

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