Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home

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"When she was thirty-five years old, seventeen years after she had left home "for good," Janisse Ray pointed her truck away from Montana, toward the small Southern town where she was born. Self-sufficient and independent, she nonetheless craved a life built on "land, history, and blood."" "She comes home in the heat of August to her grandmother's pine house, built in the 1920s but not lived in for years. She comes home to the beauty of longleaf pine forests, the ghosts of her ancestors, and the constant presence of Uncle Percy, who lives in the
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2003 Hard cover First edition. 2nd printing New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. 288 p.; 1.17" x 8.83" x 5.82". Includes Illustrations. never read.

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Overview

"When she was thirty-five years old, seventeen years after she had left home "for good," Janisse Ray pointed her truck away from Montana, toward the small Southern town where she was born. Self-sufficient and independent, she nonetheless craved a life built on "land, history, and blood."" "She comes home in the heat of August to her grandmother's pine house, built in the 1920s but not lived in for years. She comes home to the beauty of longleaf pine forests, the ghosts of her ancestors, and the constant presence of Uncle Percy, who lives in the trailer across the yard from the house. She comes back to renewed skirmishes with her father over the fate of her soul, to the improbability of finding a date on a Friday night, to a district about to shut down the school where her son will be enrolled." Rediscovering the nearly lost pleasures of country life - a Thanksgiving syrup-boil, alligator trappers, quilting - she wonders if real connections can be built between herself and her neighbors, whether she can build a sustainable life for herself and her son.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seventeen years after leaving her childhood home in southern Georgia, Ray (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood) moved back to raise her nine-year-old son. The author delivers a lively account of her return to "a place that as a young woman I had gladly left behind." A naturalist and activist, Ray writes eloquently about the region's forests and waterways, places she works to protect from annihilation. She's also a community advocate and embraces rural traditions. In episodic vignettes, Ray tells of attending a syrup boiling, judging a pork cook-off and struggling to keep her son's small school open. Neighbors, cousins and assorted eccentrics populate the narrative, and Ray's affectionate portraits of them are memorable: her uncle Percy, who mows grass and attends church "with great joy"; her brother and his efforts to grow a giant tomato; and the photographer who lives in an old school bus. The eponymous quilt appears throughout the book, serving as a metaphor for Ray's attempt to reassemble her life. "Making a quilt is about being able to talk," she writes. "[T]rying to create a beautiful thing... mother and daughter, in spite of our differences." Though she doesn't delve into her relationship with her son and barely addresses the issue of race and contact with local black people, Ray celebrates the richness of the natural world and the comforts of family. (May 22) Forecast: Ray's first book garnered Southern literary prizes and sold 50,000 copies. For her second book, the publisher plans a 20-city tour to such cities as Boston, Raleigh/Durham, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, which might bring Ray national acclaim. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ray (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood) returns to her rural Georgia home after many years' absence to reclaim her grandmother's ramshackle farm and find wholeness through family, community, and nature. Things are not as she remembers, however. Her beloved longleaf pine forests are being logged, and rural life is disappearing as people flee to the cities. Through a series of stories, pieced together like the squares in a patchwork quilt, Ray reveals her strict fundamentalist upbringing and later rebellion, her struggle as a single mother, writer, and activist, her determination to heal family rifts, and her devotion to the natural world. We laugh as she attempts a gracious introduction to cousin Sue during a septic system crisis and cry when Uncle Percy succumbs to cancer. We meet ordinary people who fight to save a rural school and to preserve a watershed. Reminiscent of the writings of Wendell Berry and Stephanie Mills, Ray's ruminations on hope, community, and sustainable living is highly recommended for public libraries and regional collections.-Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ. Lib., Sault Ste. Marie, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Evocative observations about her return to the southern family farm in an attempt to gather fragments and make her life whole. In 1997, after 17 years away, Ray (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, 1999) came back to "my grandmother’s heart-pine house, amid tobacco fields and cow pastures in Spring Branch, a farming section in northern Appling County, Georgia." She had with her a son and a lot of memories, not all of them good. Those many years before she had gladly left a family "proud, fervently religious, marred by lunacy, suspicious . . . doomed to isolation," but she felt a tug of duty and an obligation to honor the place, land, kin, and history, a desire to experience the human spirit of an agrarian community. Ray finds both community and sense of place eroded and compromised: the woods have been clear-cut, the historic buildings in town bulldozed, the crossroads turned into four-lane highways to somewhere else, the local school closed. She also finds lasting beauty on the landscape, a steady local economy, and a cast of genuine country dwellers. With a casual lyricism, the author unravels the intricate and intriguing longleaf pine ecosystem, from the wiregrass that burns to keep the trees regenerating to the Chickasaw plums and tannin-wracked rivers, red-cockaded woodpecker and peach-colored clay. She lights a little more fire under her writing when it comes to human behavior, and not just in scorning the rapaciousness of the lumber companies, but in tribute to the old system of barter and obligation that still holds, promoting mutual beneficence, trust, and balance. With a fine quilter's hand, Ray weaves new stories (of music festivals, riverkeepers, referendums, her son moving north,her whole unusual family) into the rapidly diminishing store of old ones. Though it ends with a grace note as her mother and father sow their land with longleaf, in essence it’s an elegy for a ravaged place without a needle to its compass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571312723
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 4/10/2003
  • Series: The World As Home Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 1.13 (d)

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