Hillbilly Hustle

Wesley BrowneThis week’s other featured books, “Jaws of Life,” by Laura Leigh Morris, “A Wife in Bangkok,” by Iris Mitlin Lav and “The Tumble Down Road Poems,” by Howard Camner, can be found by scrolling down below this post. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.


THE BOOK: Hillbilly Hustle,


THE AUTHOR:  Wesley Browne

THE EDITOR: Abby Freeland

THE PUBLISHER: West Virginia University Press

SUMMARY: Knox Thompson thinks he’s working a hustle, but it’s a hustle that’s working him. Trying to keep his pizza shop and parents afloat, he cleans out a backroom Kentucky poker game, only to get roped into dealing marijuana by the proprietor—an arrangement Knox only halfheartedly resists.

Hillbilly Hustle by [Wesley Browne]Knox’s shop makes the perfect front for a marijuana operation, but his supplier turns out to be violent and calculating, and Knox ends up under his thumb. It’s not long before more than just the pizza shop is at risk.

THE BACK STORY: My family owns a pizza shop in Richmond, Kentucky that’s been around since 1981. Before we owned it a previous owner sold marijuana out of the store. That was the inspiration.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a misconception about our region. Most people around here hustle their asses off to get by. That’s the heart of this book.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It’s rural noir/crime fiction but it’s humor and pop culture heavy. Reviewers have noted that it avoids clichés and features well drawn characters.


“Wry, thrilling debut … will appeal to fans of Daniel Woodrell and Charles Portis” – Publishers Weekly  “A top-notch debut with a winning narrative voice and unexpectedly multi-dimensional character” –- Kirkus Reviews.

“Astounding debut … whip smart” — Chapter 16 

AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m a pizza shop owner, attorney, and poker player, all of which figure prominently into HILLBILLY HUSTLE. I host the Pages & Pints Reading Series at Apollo Pizza in Richmond, Kentucky.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: First and foremost I wanted to write a fast-paced exciting book with heart. In the process I also hoped to give a more well-rounded and nuanced view of my region and its people than you sometimes find in works about the region. I started HILLBILLY HUSTLE in 2014 at the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop and I finished it after attending the 2018 Tin House Summer Workshop. 

SAMPLE CHAPTER: The first chapter is available on the Appalachian Review website: https://appalachianreview.net/2020/03/10/excerpt-from-hillbilly-hustle-a-novel-by-wesley-browne/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Joseph Beth Booksellers (Lexington, Kentucky) Carmichael’s Bookstore (Louisville, Kentucky) 

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Bookshop.org, Indiebound, West Virginia University Press Online, Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon, Waterstones

PRICE: $17-$20

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: https://www.wesleybrowne.com/get-in-touch.html

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

One thought on “Hillbilly Hustle”

  1. Sounds interesting, especially due to the similarities in the history of your business. Will be putting this one on my WTR list. Good luck!


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