cover image An Ozark Odyssey: The Journey of a Father and Son

An Ozark Odyssey: The Journey of a Father and Son

William Childress, . . Southern Illinois Univ., $50 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-8093-2639-6

In this down-home memoir, Childress recalls two lives: his stepfather's and his own. Born out of wedlock in the depths of the Depression, the author was four when he and his mother, Lorraine, left the Ozarks and went west for Lorraine to find work. Before she got very far, she found a husband: J.W., a hardscrabble, hard-working man who had also left the Ozarks. He'd been a vagabond most of his young life and remained one after his marriage. Other children followed his and Lorraine's wedding, and he regularly relocated his entire family, sometimes out of sheer restlessness but more often to find better work or housing. Despite the moves, the family held together, often bonded only by fierce but loving antagonism between husband and wife. It's the sort of rollicking personal chronicle where pots are thrown, bottles are emptied and rabid mother skunks are fended off by shotgun, populated by vivid characters dishing folk wisdom, with a touch of knee-slapping "aw-shucks"-ness. Childress graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and his poetry, most of it previously published, appears throughout the narrative. The poems are better crafted than the prose surrounding them, but the book is pleasant in its limited way. (Aug.)