John Snyder's memoir of growing up the the Depression era south evokes a time gone by. It is written with affection and non-judgmental understanding of people dealing with hard times, sometimes with cruelty, sometimes with violence, including an unsolved case of arson that changed the author's life. In three parts, it is about early childhood among North Carolina mountaineers, living for a time with two eccentric aunts, and growing up on a sharecropper farm before the author went away to the University of Chicago.
Hill of Beans has received favorable reviews from Roy Blount, Jr., Diane McWhorter, James Atlas, Jonathan Galassi, Robert Morgan, Janisse Ray, Charles Gaines, and other eminent authors. Kirkus's Best of 2012 review compared it to the works of Twain and Turgenev.