I just started reading this book, and am delighted to read about Jack's childhood in my own childhood town of Wheeling, WV. I agree with him about Wheeling in that there is beauty in every direction and drinking is a major outlet among people.
For me, growing up in Wheeling was definitely a positive thing in most respects, especially education. Canfield went to a prestigious former military high school, which even in my later time, was still considered one of the best high schools in the valley. I'm sure it still is. I know several people who went there, and they are all highly intelligent people.
I think West Virginia is hurting - like a lot of people are these days. West Virginians' loyalties are in question as we struggle between our identity as a collective force against outside interests, and our identity as a backbone of American values.
Are the two mutually exclusive?