I have been reading a book by a Southern writer, Bill Lightle, who grew up in my hometown of Albany, Georgia, and witnessed racism for the first time when his family moved there from a small all-white town in the mid-west.
The title of Bill's book is Race and Politics in the American South - A Personal History.
He was witness to those early days of school integration when white people, who feared what their lives would become if their children had to interact with Black children, did all in their power to stop the process ordered by the Federal Government. Bill, as I did, experienced the upheaval in southwest Georgia and later in his work as a reporter for the Albany Herald Newspaper when the races clashed.
He goes on in his book to show how race has been a large compelling factor in all politics in the deep south. Although Bill is recalling history, this is a timely book because the run for governor at this time in 2022, is between a white man, a Republican, and a Black Woman, a Democrat. Their values and ideas for the state are very different.
This writer keeps you glued to the pages of this nonfiction book because Bill Lightle is a good storyteller and that makes a good book.
Another book I am enjoying at this time is a John Grisham novel, The Boys from Biloxi about the growth of underworld crime along the coast of Mississippi a few years ago.
The main characters are two boys who grew up together doing what teenage boys do. But their lives took drastic turns as one became a lawyer who planned to clean up the Biloxi coast where gambling, prostitution, and drug use had become the norm. The other boy was the son of a major crime boss who headed a group known as the Dixie Mafia. And there lay the conflict of the book. As usual John Grisham keeps the reader turning pages to see how this all ends.
I have always liked Grisham legal thrillers.
They are surprisingly clean books but have that built-in tension we readers thoroughly crave in his books. To me, that is the skill of a major storyteller.
I have come to like this author not only for his books but for the kind of human being he is. I learned this from watching YouTube videos where he is interviewed or where he is speaking before an audience. He has a dry sense of humor and a self-deprecating way of charming his listeners. He is honest about himself and his feelings about how we human beings can do better.
I also like the way he gives his wife so much credit for his writing success. She is his first reader of everything he writes. He listens to her critique of his books even when she tells him, "Your female characters suck." They have been married for several decades now and they are expecting their first grandchild.
What are you reading now? Got any recommendations?