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Table Of Contents

Julia and Nellie27
OnSecond Creek131
Grant
Julia and Nellie
Hampton
OnSecond Creek
P. 1
Truth; Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell

Truth; Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell

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Published by Workman Publishing
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.
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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Publish date: Jan 9, 1998
Added to Scribd: Sep 19, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781565128996
List Price: $18.95

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Publishers Weekly reviewed this
After 40 years of exploring Southern life through fiction such as the NBA finalist, Apostles of Light, Mississippi native Douglas turns to nonfiction in these deeply felt reminiscences full of family skeletons, tragedies, crises and the ghosts of the Deep South. In "Grant," her husband's uncle, dying of cancer at 82, befriends an illiterate, devoted black caretaker and nurse, while his white relations virtually abandon him. In "Julia and Nellie," a tale of kinship, identity and religion, Julia Nutt, a family friend, defies convention and her Catholic upbringing by shacking up for decades with her married-but-separated Presbyterian first cousin, Dunbar Marshall. "Hampton" concerns Douglas's attempts to break down the wall of reserve and condescension surrounding her grandmother's African American gardener/handyman/ butler, Hampton Elliot. The final true-life tale is her convoluted investigation of the brutal execution by whipping and hanging of 30 slaves in Natzchez, Miss., in 1861, after a summary "trial" occasioned by apparently phony allegations of plotting a slave uprising. Douglas digs up a distant cousin's handwritten, firsthand account of the massacre and meditates on the sins of her slaveholding ancestors‘none of whom, to her knowledge, were involved in this incident. At 78, Douglas has delivered a beautifully written book that is haunted by death, by the weight of the past and by the myths that hold together or sunder families and friends. Author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

1998-07-13, Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly reviewed this
After 40 years of exploring Southern life through fiction such as the NBA finalist, Apostles of Light, Mississippi native Douglas turns to nonfiction in these deeply felt reminiscences full of family skeletons, tragedies, crises and the ghosts of the Deep South. In "Grant," her husband's uncle, dying of cancer at 82, befriends an illiterate, devoted black caretaker and nurse, while his white relations virtually abandon him. In "Julia and Nellie," a tale of kinship, identity and religion, Julia Nutt, a family friend, defies convention and her Catholic upbringing by shacking up for decades with her married-but-separated Presbyterian first cousin, Dunbar Marshall. "Hampton" concerns Douglas's attempts to break down the wall of reserve and condescension surrounding her grandmother's African American gardener/handyman/ butler, Hampton Elliot. The final true-life tale is her convoluted investigation of the brutal execution by whipping and hanging of 30 slaves in Natzchez, Miss., in 1861, after a summary "trial" occasioned by apparently phony allegations of plotting a slave uprising. Douglas digs up a distant cousin's handwritten, firsthand account of the massacre and meditates on the sins of her slaveholding ancestors‘none of whom, to her knowledge, were involved in this incident. At 78, Douglas has delivered a beautifully written book that is haunted by death, by the weight of the past and by the myths that hold together or sunder families and friends. Author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

1998-07-13, Publishers Weekly
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