Tidewater Review by Anne Stinson
Dimestore. A Writer’s Life. A memoir by Lee Smith. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, NC. 200 pp. $24.95. Anyone who grew up in a small town knows that all small towns are alike in some ways. The people who live in them know the names of everybody else in town, are often related to half the population, know all the quirks, the talents and f laws of the other families, and care about their neighbors. Small-town kids live for summer ~ a blissful time of no homework, no special bedtime, endless running and playing games, riding bikes, catching lightning bugs, and so many other fun things that jump back into your mind when you’re least expecting it. Usually there are cousins, aunts and uncles, and at least one set of grandparents living nearby. That’s how Lee Smith begins her memoir about her wonderful childhood in an Appalachian “holler” surrounded by creeks, a railroad, coal mines and mountains so high and thick with timber that sunlight didn’t come down to the roses in the backyard until nearly lunchtime.
Sunset was early to arrive, and in a hurry to slide behind the tops of the high mountains. Lee lived in the tall ridges of Virginia’s southwest corner. Her little town was like the bottom of a cereal bowl, with long walks up the steep sides to the top edges. The town was, and still is, Grundy. It was a pleasant and prosperous