"This is a family memoir, of sorts, told one newspaper column at a time, a variety of memories stitched together like a patchwork quilt."
So writes columnist Keith Huffman in describing this nifty collection of Southern essays that pay tribute to a charming bunch of characters who personify small-town life. Reflecting on his childhood in the West Alabama town of Gordo, Huffman shares the stories and memories of the folks who made their marks on him, including:
* Pawpaw Buck, the ornery-though-lovable old coot, whose dying wish was to get baptized by the very country preacher who'd been damned determined to save his soul for decades;
* Doe Doe, the author's father, a Crimson Tide fanatic and big-rig ace, whose One True Love was a black and silver 1979 Ford F-150 that flaunted its glorious name across its gleaming windshield: Silver Bullet;
* Mawmaw Sue, expert remover of deadly splinters and master engineer, who once used a shoestring to keep a push mower running long enough to finish the job;
* Aunt Lorene, a beast of a card player, who lacked neither a winning hand nor mocking grin for her brother, Henry, the man who not only named himself but fulfilled an old psychic's prophecy that he'd "go overseas and find a gold mine."
Other stories involve bootlegging shenanigans, a drunken cage match with a wild cat, plus the author's burned luck and bitter fishing tragedy. Huffman also shares about how he learned the fine art of backroad skepticism; his ongoing ponderings over how life as a turtle could have turned out; and his musings over the joys of fatherhood... proving that parenting is no easy task, especially when a young'un holds a grudge after dreaming his mother ate his dinosaur.
This collection also includes other newspaper features Huffman has written over the years, highlighting examples of Southern hearts, tragedies, and triumphs.