Alton Ballance, Author University of North Carolina Press $17.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-8078-4265-2
Ocracoke, a small island off North Carolina and, as of 1980, home to 658 year-round residents, is a ripe subject, offering intrigue (early 18th-century Ocracoke was a haven for pirates), a romantic setting (wild ponies still roam there) and conflict (outside investors make land acquisition and ownership increasingly difficult for natives). But although Ballance, whose ancestors settled Ocracoke over 200 years ago and who teaches at the local high school, has researched his topic prodigiously and conducted copious interviews, he floats almost arbitrarily from topic to topic. Never does he challenge or probe, despite his stated goal of delving beyond the ``quaint fishing village'' stereotype. Why, for example, does an elderly woman from Ocracoke's one black family conclude a spirited account of her unruly childhood by stating abruptly, ``I can't say that I really enjoy life''? A whimsical, warm chapter about mulleting and the technical skill, old-fashioned wisdom and physical endurance of two veteran fishermen is the welcome exception in an otherwise clumsy, cliche-ridden effort. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 271 pages - 978-0-8078-1878-7
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