Storyville, USA

Storyville, USA

by Dale Peterson
     
 

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What is a Storyville? Whether you're in Toast, North Carolina, Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky, or Winner, South Dakota, a Storyville is a real town you can find on a map, with a tale behind its quirky name. Covering 20,000 miles of U.S. roads, Dale Peterson drove with his kids, Britt and Bayne, from Start, Louisiana, to Deadhorse, Alaska in search of small-town America

Overview

What is a Storyville? Whether you're in Toast, North Carolina, Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky, or Winner, South Dakota, a Storyville is a real town you can find on a map, with a tale behind its quirky name. Covering 20,000 miles of U.S. roads, Dale Peterson drove with his kids, Britt and Bayne, from Start, Louisiana, to Deadhorse, Alaska in search of small-town America in the "garage sale of the open highway." Along the way they explored open spaces, wild places, and country back roads and met people who weren't afraid to talk to one another.

Together, they discovered the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of nearly sixty small towns, as well as the zany stories behind them, guided by an AAA Road Atlas, expert local storytellers, and lots of curiosity. They dipped into Caddo Lake and the everglades of Uncertain, Texas, went a little crazy in Loco, Oklahoma, and learned about bee colonies in Climax, New York. Conversations with townsfolk range from the refrigerator at the center of Noodle, Texas, and the hazards of Accident, Maryland, to issues of civil rights, religion, and environmental preservation. Collected here are the landscapes, landmarks, faces, thoughts, and conversations of a sentimental, idiosyncratic, and often hilarious American odyssey. Storyville, USA is a long, winding trip into the back roads of the country and a longer one into the hinterland of our own hearts.

Editorial Reviews

Noel Perrin

This is a quirky, digressive, insightful, and extremely funny book.

Jane Goodall

Only a talented writer with a good sense of humor would come up with an idea like this. Dale Peterson encourages his research team—his children—not only to observe that which is in front of their eyes, but also to think about that which has gone. This book sounds a knell for the passing of so much that was of value in local cultures and local environments. Buy Storyville, USA and you will laugh, you will feel sad, and you will be the wiser. Buy it for your grandchildren so that they will grow up with a better understanding of their American heritage.

Jane Vandenburgh

Storyville, USA is my favorite kind of book, inventive, fun, and so perfectly American. In it the three engaging characters light out for the territories to discover the town or village’s history. Each story is then told in a humorous and yarn-spinning vernacular.

Rosanna Warren

Dale Peterson guides us through an affectionate, wry, nostalgic odyssey across small-town USA. Delight and adventure attend this paean to idiosyncrasy, to all things counter, original, spare, strange, American-style: at once an adult’s tribute to his childhood and a father’s journey with his children.

Scott Turow

This is a lovely, lively, funny book about being a stranger, a father, and an American. A delight.

Booklist

Peterson has an appreciation for places off the beaten path and an eye for the minutiae of everyday life. . . . A warm father-child travelogue.

Utne Reader
...[A] unique tour of American towns with unusual names, like Embarass, Minnesota, and Money's Eyebrow, Kentucky.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Peterson (coauthor with Jane Goodall of Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People) embarks on a 20,000-mile road trip asking the question: "Where did the name of that town come from?" Accompanied by his 11-year-old son, Bayne, and 14-year-old daughter, Britt, and armed with the AAA Road Atlas, Peterson unearths the stories behind the names of small towns across America. From Start, La. ("Well, we're the first people that started the post office here... why don't we just name it Start?" said the young daughter of the town's founder), through Nothing, Ariz., to Roads End, Ala., the tales that emerge concern not only town names but also town residents, their ancestors and the landscapes that surround them. Peterson describes how mechanization has changed the lives of tobacco farmers, explains the difference between various Mennonite groups and, on the way to Jerry's Climax Hotel in the Catskills, offers a lengthy treatise on bee-keeping. Musings on welfare and segregation, both overt and hidden, are offered by ordinary people whose lives continue to be shaped by these issues. The author revisits his own rural upbringing in Corning, N.Y., and narrates the evolution of the name of his hometown. Town names are often used as starting points for running jokes, puns ("It seemed to me that Feeding Hills [Mass.] would be a fine place to eat") and various literary devices. Peterson can get carried away with these contrivances, but more often than not he offers a wonderfully evocative picture of often forgotten towns. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820323039
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
04/30/2001
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.79(d)

Meet the Author

Dale Peterson is also the author of Chimpanzee Travels: On and Off the Road in Africa, Storyville, USA (both Georgia), and The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds. He is co-author, with Richard Wrangham, of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. He teaches at Tufts University.

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