The above quote from the book sums it up pretty well. Set initially in the latter part of the 1990's the story revolves around the homophobia and dread of being gay in the "country" back then. Small town bigots, people using Old Testament religion to justify their hatred make this a pretty harrowing read at times. But the two men survive even if scarred mentally and physically.
To balance this is a vivid picture of life in the Appalachians. The good people, the scenery, the food. Boy, the food! I'd never heard of half the dishes they cooked or talked about, but I kept getting these urges to get up and eat!
I hope that times have changed and gay people are accepted better than they obviously were back then.
Coming from a different country where, even if homophobia exists it has rarely been this vitriolic or pervasive and where the press isn't nearly so invasive, I found it hard at times to connect with this story. Maybe the fact it was written in third person past tense rather than first person present contributed to my difficulty. The italicised thoughts jumped out at me rather than flowed as they usually do in Jeff's writing.
Once I got used to it, and the story was less in Brice's head as he stopped wallowing in his misery and started interacting more with others, the dialogue and action flowed better.
There were some great moments. The one of Annie calling down fire and brimstone on the preacher brings a smile to my face whenever I think of it.
If you've read his essays and stories, a lot of the themes will be familiar. Packed full of all the things that are important to Jeff, Country is a homage to the music and era it is set in. Makes you want to give credit to all those who survived it and those who were allies.