Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana by Rheta Grimsley Johnson | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana

Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana

by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
     
 

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For over a decade, syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson has been spending several months a year in southwest Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. Rheta fell in love with the place, bought a second home, and set in planting doomed azaleas and deep roots. She has found an assortment of beautiful people right on the edge of the Atchafalaya Swamp.

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Overview

For over a decade, syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson has been spending several months a year in southwest Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country. Rheta fell in love with the place, bought a second home, and set in planting doomed azaleas and deep roots. She has found an assortment of beautiful people right on the edge of the Atchafalaya Swamp.

These days, much is labeled Cajun that is not, and the popularity of the unique culture's food, songs, and dance has been a mixed blessing. Poor Man's Provence helps define what's what through lively characters and stories. The book is both a personal odyssey and good reporting, a travelogue and a memoir, funny and frank.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to newspaper columnist Johnson, life in Cajun Country, deep in the heart of Southeast Louisiana, is "the opposite of live and let live; it's more like mind my business and I'll mind yours." In this largely winning read, Johnson does exactly that with the residents of her adopted, beloved Bayou home, Henderson, La. Her distinct perspective, that of an accepted neighbor who's still considered an outsider, drives this observational memoir. Travel readers will enjoy chucklesome details-a town with about five surnames, Henderson's phone book "is the only one... I know of to use nicknames in its listings"-but Johnson's news background proves both blessing and curse. On one hand, she's a fearless reporter, but her profiles too often cut short just when they're getting good. She touches on the poverty, racism and other troubles (like hurricanes), but doesn't probe in much depth, effectively reducing some of her friends and neighbors to two-dimensional ciphers. Where she does achieve a more nuanced portrait, readers will find a wonderful, personal look into a Cajun community.
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Judith McKibbin
Poor Man's Provence is a refreshing study of all things Cajun, or at least all things Cajun that can be observed and absorbed by a fascinated reporter of Southern life. Given Johnson's easy raconteur's style, it will have readers stopping to read aloud.
Greg Langley
The difference between Johnson and other nomads is that she has the keen perspective and fine writing skills to bring her insights to the page. She’s not just a rolling stone either. She still has her place in Henderson and still lives there part of the time. Her abiding love of the people and place shine through in her writing. Louisiana’s bruised image could use more healing like Johnson’s book provides.
Herman Fuselier
True to her unblinking commentaries, Johnson sees the area and its people with an eye that penetrates deeper the usual newcomer.
John Branston
The columnist is also a knight, bound by a code of honor to treat both subjects and readers fairly and honestly, to travel any distance in all kinds of weather to meet them on their own turf, to avoid cliches and well-worn paths, to meet all deadlines, and to do it year after year for 20 years. Pretty amazing.
Scott Jordan
Award-winning writer Rheta Grimsley Johnson has traveled and covered the south for more than three decades and was a 1991 Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary — but it was an assignment to cover boar hunting in Louisiana that truly changed her life. Johnson fell in love with local culture and bought a second home in Henderson, intent on fully experiencing Acadiana traditions and rhythms. She chronicles that quest in Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781588382184
Publisher:
NewSouth, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,146,845
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Rheta Grimsley Johnson has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist. She writes about ordinary but fascinating people, mining for universal meaning in individual stories. In past reporting for United Press International, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a number of other regional newspapers, Johnson has won national awards. They include the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for human interest reporting (1983), the Headliner Award for commentary (1985), the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for commentary (1982). In 1986 she was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. In 1991 Johnson was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Syndicated today by King Features of New York, Johnson’s column appears in about 50 papers nationwide. She is the author of several books, including America’s Faces (1987) and Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz (1989). In 2000 she wrote the text for a book of photographs entitled Georgia. A native of Colquitt, Ga., Johnson grew up in Montgomery, Ala., studied journalism at Auburn University and has lived and worked in the South all of her career. She was married to the late journalism professor Don Grierson.

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