Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gar Fish and Long Gravy by Alexander Devereux

Growing up poor in the small town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Alexander Devereux didn't have much.  But there was no lack of remarkable personalities, each of whom left an indelible imprint on his life.  Gar Fish & Long Gravy collects the stories, insight, tragedies, and uproarious wit of an unforgettable cast of characters.  Meet Granmama Lia', who's hard-won wisdom on life, love-and mistresses-is dispensed to in her kitchen to her beloved grandson, sometimes over Johnny Walker Black.  There's Ms. Peaches, who raises chickens in her ramshackle hut yet might be one of the richest people in town.  Big Daddy is an imposing hulk, but his massive frame hides a vulnerable past and humiliating secret.  Ms. Annie Laurie is a fabulously wealthy white woman who never had children of her own.  But her love rains down on young Alexander.  And that's just for starters. -taken from the back of the book

I've come to notice recently that most of the memoirs I read from the south have a definite hint of humor in them.  I found myself grinning in several spots of this book.  My favorite quote from this book is, 'If sense were common, everyone would have it.'  It makes you smile and holds several grains of truth.

This book paints a picture of Devereux's life as a child, and it's not usually a pretty picture.  There are so many hardships depicted that no one should ever have to live through, but each time it's taken care of with love and faith.  Though not everyone in Devereux's life growing up was someone any of us would want to be around, the others more than made up for it with their depth of love and wisdom and sharing.  I can't agree with all of the wisdom shared with him as a child, but I was still entertained while disagreeing. 

For me, the best part of this book is the actual dialogue.  The rest of the book is interesting and ads, but the dialogue is where the real meat of the story lies.  It gives us insight into the characters and their beliefs as well as the truths that hide behind each person. 

Though parts of this book are heart-wrenching, I strongly suggest it for you  memoir readers.  Also, for those of you handy with a baseball bat, let me know how the gar fishing goes :)

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