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Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell

– tekijä: Ellen Douglas

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
372545,623 (4.2)2
In four haunting family stories, Ellen Douglas seeks to track down the truth--about herself, about her white Mississippi forebears, about their relationships to black Mississippians, and ultimately about their guilt as murderers of helpless slaves. Progressively searching further and further back in time, each of these four family tales involves collusion and secrets. In "Grant," a randy old uncle dying in the author's house is nursed by a beautiful black woman while his white family watches from a "respectful" distance. Who loves him better? When truth is death, who is braver facing it? In "Julia and Nellie," very close cousins make "a marriage in all but name" back in the days of easy scandal. The nature of the liaison never mentioned, the family waives its Presbyterian morality in the face of family deviance. In "Hampton," her grandmother's servant, who has constructed a world closed to whites, evades the author's tentative efforts at a meeting of minds. And finally, in "On Second Creek," Douglas confronts her obsession with the long-lost--or -buried--facts of the "examination and execution" of slaves who may or may not have plotted an uprising. Having published fiction for four decades, here she crosses over into the mirror world of historical fact. It's a book, she says, "about remembering and forgetting, seeing and ignoring, lying and truth-telling." It's about secrets, judgments, threats, danger, and willful amnesia. It's about the truth in fiction and the fiction in "truth." Praise for Ellen Douglas: "It's possible to think that some people were simply born to write. Ellen Douglas is just such a writer."--Richard Ford; "Proust wrote in one of his last letters, 'one must never be afraid of going too far, for the truth is beyond.' Ellen Douglas has taken this very much to heart and has sought the truth in a region beyond falsehood; through falsehood, in effect. It's a fascinating performance."--Shelby Foote.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 2/2
Before finding this book, I'd never heard of this southern author, who apparently draws heavily from her long family history for her fiction. I chose the book from the biography shelves based on the lovely snippet of prose on the back cover.

Part memoir, part contemplative musings, partly an exploration of southern history and a southern family's history...a dense, lush, marvelous reading experience!

Lovely writing, and beautifully puzzling in its construction. I loved this book so much, I will likely read it again (after finding and reading some of her fiction, perhaps.) ( )
  Kim_Sasso | Mar 14, 2018 |
Ellen Douglas wrote eight novels when she published this memoir in 1998. As the dust jacket says, “Douglas is the pseudonym for Josephine Haxton, whose family roots extend back to the earliest days in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.” These four tales describe her search for details of her ancestors. Sometimes she meets with talkative relatives who surprise her with some interesting information. Others stonewall her search, because she used the information from previous interviews in her novels and changed some important details.

This work should interest those who enjoy the historical aspects of fiction. Douglas talks about how she could use some people and incidents from her investigation in her next novel. Her meticulous search of records and memories of her family – and those who knew her family – adds a lot of weight to these tales. She readily admits when she will have to fill in gaps.

The most interesting of the four stories – “Julia and Nellie” – tells the history of her paternal grandmother, Nellie, and her friend, Julia, and a cousin, Dunbar (Dunny). Her prose has a soft and gentle quality – musical, enchanting, and absorbing. “I am sure now that I remember my grandmother and Julia—and Dunny, too—on the gallery at The Forest on a long, hot summer afternoon. I recall an embrace and then the two women in intimate, quiet conversation. I hear their soft voices, Julia’s pitched a shade lower than my grandmother’s, the voices, it seems to me now, of ghosts, alive only in my head and only for the time left to me to remember them. I remember the call and response of those voices as I might remember music—the oboe making room for the flute and then meditatively answering—and, like oboe and flute, they speak with deep emotion, but wordlessly.” (81)

One incident in particular eluded her best efforts to uncover details. In 1861, an unknown number of slaves were tortured and whipped, and some were executed, because of a plot to kill slave owners as soon as “Mr. Lincoln and his army” came to Mississippi. Several “gentlemen of the county” served as judges, jury, and executioners. No newspapers reported the event, no record of any burials exist. The only evidence Douglas uncovered involved lists of slaves “interviewed” about the plot.

I most definitely need to track down some of those novels. (5 stars)

--Jim, 9/26/10 ( )
1 ääni rmckeown | Sep 26, 2010 |
näyttää 2/2
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Henkilöt/hahmot
Tärkeät paikat
Tärkeät tapahtumat
Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
Omistuskirjoitus
Ensimmäiset sanat
Sitaatit
Viimeiset sanat
Erotteluhuomautus
Julkaisutoimittajat
Kirjan kehujat
Alkuteoksen kieli
Kanoninen DDC/MDS
Kanoninen LCC

Viittaukset tähän teokseen muissa lähteissä.

Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

In four haunting family stories, Ellen Douglas seeks to track down the truth--about herself, about her white Mississippi forebears, about their relationships to black Mississippians, and ultimately about their guilt as murderers of helpless slaves. Progressively searching further and further back in time, each of these four family tales involves collusion and secrets. In "Grant," a randy old uncle dying in the author's house is nursed by a beautiful black woman while his white family watches from a "respectful" distance. Who loves him better? When truth is death, who is braver facing it? In "Julia and Nellie," very close cousins make "a marriage in all but name" back in the days of easy scandal. The nature of the liaison never mentioned, the family waives its Presbyterian morality in the face of family deviance. In "Hampton," her grandmother's servant, who has constructed a world closed to whites, evades the author's tentative efforts at a meeting of minds. And finally, in "On Second Creek," Douglas confronts her obsession with the long-lost--or -buried--facts of the "examination and execution" of slaves who may or may not have plotted an uprising. Having published fiction for four decades, here she crosses over into the mirror world of historical fact. It's a book, she says, "about remembering and forgetting, seeing and ignoring, lying and truth-telling." It's about secrets, judgments, threats, danger, and willful amnesia. It's about the truth in fiction and the fiction in "truth." Praise for Ellen Douglas: "It's possible to think that some people were simply born to write. Ellen Douglas is just such a writer."--Richard Ford; "Proust wrote in one of his last letters, 'one must never be afraid of going too far, for the truth is beyond.' Ellen Douglas has taken this very much to heart and has sought the truth in a region beyond falsehood; through falsehood, in effect. It's a fascinating performance."--Shelby Foote.

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