Book Review: TVA's disruptive early days become compelling fiction in 'Watershed'

"WATERSHED" by Mark Barr / Photo by Hub City Press

"WATERSHED" by Mark Barr (Hub City Press, 264 pages, $26).

Labeled a "great experiment" by President Franklin Roosevelt, the 1933 Tennessee Valley Authority Act created a government corporation tasked with redefining the Tennessee Valley watershed. Binding seven states, the TVA became the nation's largest supplier of electricity, promoted flood control and reforestation, and served as a labor-generating counterstrike to the Great Depression - and, in the process, transformed a region and way of life.

How to frame such tectonics as compelling fiction? Mark Barr's debut novel, "Watershed," does so by considering the early TVA era from the ground up, focusing on character and place and the intimate stories of lives impacted by the agency.

Set in Hardin County in 1937, "Watershed" is about a small community impacted by the construction of a hydroelectric dam.