Just Plain Folks: Original Tales of Living, Loving, Longing and Learning as Told by Perfectly Ordinary, Quite Commonly Sensible and Abso

Lorraine Johnson-Coleman, Editor Summerhouse Press $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-887714-14-3
In this omnibus of self-styled ""original tales,"" folk-culturist and storyteller Johnson-Coleman takes readers to the hearth, to the fields and to the church, seeking to convey those elements of the tradition of the African American South that are too often overlooked in the emphasis on slavery and discrimination. Johnson-Coleman developed 21 first-person stories from interviews with the residents of Farmville, N.C., her ancestral home. She then embellished with poetry, philosophy and anthropological texts that explain various customs mentioned in the stories. Thus, these simple, rural tales are tied to a tradition that began 300 years ago when the first slaves were brought from Africa to the American South. Among the affectionately fictionalized characters are Sister Nellie, self-appointed town genealogist; six-year-old Martha, who thinks water in the drinking fountain marked ""colored"" is rainbow water; and the opinionated Reverend Joyner. The narratives sometimes skid from folksy to hokey, as when one of her characters says: ""Now I ain't got me no kinda understandin' 'bout birthin' no babies."" Still, the collection is not all picnics and prayers. Lynching, rape and segregation's indignities make dramatic appearances, and the black residents of Farmville face their lives with a strength drawn from an unshakable religious faith. Despite its hammy moments, Johnson-Coleman's fictional debut is an informative and richly textured contribution to our understanding of African American culture. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57042-656-8
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 192 pages - 978-0-7595-9188-2
Hardcover - 241 pages - 978-0-316-46084-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-316-46007-1
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-446-96052-6
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