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[Audio] J.D. Wilkes on His New Book, 'The Vine That Ate The South'


On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with J.D. Wilkes about his new book, 'The Vine That Ate The South.'


Wilkes says he began writing the book 5 years ago while on tour in Norway with the Legendary Shack Shakers. The landscape reminded him of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings and other fairy tales and wile riding in a van through a very long, dark tunnel, Wilkes began writing folklore of the South.

I literally cracked the laptop open for a light source just to keep from going crazy from the darkness, but I just started typing away at this little idea I had for this western Kentucky story about folklore,” Wilkes said.


The book can be read as both a love letter to the South and an attempt to mythologize the region. Having been born in Texas and lived in Louisiana and Kentucky, Wilkes finds a commonality and flavor to southern life. “You could call it a gumbo of stories to tell,” Wilkes said. “I just loved it so much and I always thought it was an overlooked art form in a way. You know, it’s always in the local interest section that’s all covered in cobwebs. But what if you were to put some drive into it and get it to be more exciting for all kinds of readers.”


The narrator of the book is what Wilkes calls a “nightmare version” of himself. The stories he tells are based on Wilkes’s own experience but taken to an inaccurate extreme. The book is dark but balanced with humor. Wilkes wanted it to be like a fairy tale for adults. 

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
A proud native of Murray, Kentucky, Allison grew up roaming the forests of western Kentucky and visiting national parks across the country. She graduated in 2014 from Murray State University where she studied Environmental Sustainability, Television Production, and Spanish. She loves meeting new people, questioning everything, and dancing through the sun and the rain. She hopes to make a positive impact in this world several endeavors at a time.
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