I recently finished "Ever is a Long Time" -- nonfiction by W. Ralph Eubanks, an African-American who grew up in Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s and is currently Director of Publishing at the Library of Congress.
He left Mississippi after college with no intentions of returning. After finding his parents' names on a declassified list of people watched by a secret state segregation organization, however, he returned in the 1990s to learn more.
It's a fascinating story. He sits face-to-face with men involved in the spy organization. Rather than bitterness and anger, he is able to extend forgiveness.
Although he and I grew up under different circumstances (and I am a few years older) in Mississippi, so much of what he writes about is common to us both. It's a story about the strength of family, about dark and terrible times, and about change.
The writing is good. The lessons are important, as he writes at the end of the book:
"As the stories move from the sins of the past to the seeds of redemption in the present, the rhythm of the tales moves you to get up and dance for joy. As the dancing begins, one story ends and another begins.
"The story of Mississippi is one that never ends. It echoes through every bend of its winding rivers and across every inch of land within its borders. I'm glad I came back to hear these stories. For better or worse, they are now a part of my lore. Most of all, I want to keep them alive because the lessons they hold must never be forgotten...."
<small>[ 01-23-2004, 04:53 PM: Message edited by: eaphil ]</small>
A society is generally as lax as its language.