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Vine That Ate the South

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UPC: 9781937512552
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Author: J.D. Wilkes
Illustrator: J.D. Wilkes
  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Two Dollar Radio (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193751255X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937512552
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches

In a forgotten corner of western Kentucky lies a haunted forest referred to locally as "The Deadening," where vampire cults roam wild and time is immaterial. Our protagonist and his accomplice—the one and only, Carver Canute—set out down the Old Spur Line in search of the legendary Kudzu House, where an old couple is purported to have been swallowed whole by a hungry vine. Their quest leads them face to face with albino panthers, Great Dane-riding girls, protective property owners, and just about every American folk-demon ever, while forcing the protagonist to finally take stock of his relationship with his father and the man's mysterious disappearance.

The Vine That Ate the South is a mesmerizing fantasia where Wilkes ambitiously grapples with the contradictions of the contemporary American South while subversively considering how well we know our own family and friends.



"It's a relentlessly fun novel, the literary equivalent of a country-punk album that grabs you and refuses to let go. Wilkes has a perfect ear for the dialect of Kentucky, and his writing is so bright, you can almost see every abandoned shack, every kudzu-covered tree. Sure, it's bizarre, and at points almost gleefully obscene, but it's undeniably one of the smartest, most original Southern Gothic novels to come along in years."


"Kentuckians Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp would be cackling to beat the devil over this brazen tribute to folklore, tradition, and hillbilly rituals. Wilkes' debut is a rich and heartfelt yarn that resonates as deeply as his music."

Kirkus Reviews

"Wilkes has a unique voice that sounds like the best dirty songs of a gun-toting madman obsessed with keeping listeners glued to his every word. This is a hell of a book, and it will undoubtedly become part of the list of best, and weirdest, Southern literary gems."


"It takes a master storyteller to craft a novel that is sure to be an instant Southern classic, and JD Wilkes is most certainly that."
Deep South Magazine

“A sly, rollicking Southern phantasmagoria that finds the sweet spot between tall tale and something more dangerous and psychological. Hilarious, profane, entertaining, and sneakily written. The illustrations are brilliant, too.”
―Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Southern Reach Trilogy

"Put away whatever "southern" books or regional "literary" knick-knacks you've been messing with. The Vine that Ate the South is a wild Kentucky vampire of a book and will wash you in the power of the blood. When scholars from the future come to study the crazy country myths of the melungeons and moth man, Daniel Boone and the secret rural heart of our invisible republic―this book will be their Rosetta stone."
―Scott McClanahan, author of Crapalachia

"J.D. Wilkes’s southern gothic masterpiece of front porch storytelling flows with the rhythms and ethos of Lightnin’ Hopkins or Ray Wylie Hubbard, delivering a sharp comedic detail and vernacular that only your grandfather would speak way back when you were a kid on his farm, offering a strong sense of his people, their ups and down and their terrain, making him the Townes Van Zandt of southern literature."
―Frank Bill, author of Donnybrook and Crimes in Southern Indiana

About the Author

J.D. Wilkes is an American visual artist, musician, author, filmmaker, and Kentucky Colonel. He is also an avid purveyor of traditional American music and an accomplished musician. But he is perhaps best known as the charismatic frontman for the Legendary Shack Shakers, a band that has been described as a “dynamite group” by author/fan Stephen King, and whose music has been featured on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for HBO’s TrueBlood. Wilkes is the author of Barn Dances and Jamborees Across Kentucky, an exploration of his state's rich folk music heritage.