First Acts: A Memoir

B. L. Reid, Author University of Georgia Press $19.95 (243p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1015-2
Told with self-effacing humor and the wisdom of hindsight, this crystal-clear memoir is the record of a ``Southern boy's'' growth in moral vision. Reid was raised in rural Kentucky, his father a happy-go-lucky Protestant preacher, his mother cruelly sarcastic. When his shiftless father was turned out by his congregation, the family moved to Louisville and fell into genteel poverty. The author's ironic account of his segregated WASP world in the 1930s is more complex than the standard hymn to slow-paced Southern living. A Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer ( The Man from New York ), Reid here describes his college flirtation with the modernism of Gertrude Stein, which he now rues. His pacifism kept him out of WW II as a conscientious objector, but he experienced a different kind of horror as an attendant in a mental hospital. We leave him at age 28, giving up a milk-delivery route for a teaching job, exchanging a ``sensual friendship'' with one woman for marriage to another. One longs for a sequel to this enjoyable reminiscence. Photos not seen by PW. (August)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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