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Tidewater Review by Anne Stinson

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Ja n is se R ay. Mi l kweed Editions Press. 265 pp. $19.99. ($4.54 at your online bookstore) Who is labeled a Cracker? The author, Janisse Ray, takes a deep breath and identifies the Cracker thusly: “I was born from people who were born from people who were born from people who were born here. The Crackers crossed the wide A ltamaha [River] into what had been Creek [Indian] territory and settled the vast, fire-loving uplands of the coastal plains of southeast Georgia, surrounded by a singing forest of tall and w idely spaced pines whose history they did not know, whose stories were untold.” The reader may be prepared for long sentences. But to finish the explanation of “Cracker,” she goes on to identify herself as one of them, and adds, “The memory of what they entered is scrawled on my bones, so that I carry the landscape inside like an ache.” The first word of her title, “Ecology,” is the clue to how this Cracker mourns for the what-used-to-be

on the land where she grew up in a modest house with daddy’s business on the front and back yards. They were junkyards covered with dead cars, rusting metal, broken glass from crushed windshields, car windows and weeds. Behind this Cracker home was a small number of longleaf pine trees, the glory that once spread in a wide wake across the South when her ancestors arrived. Now only small patches of longleaf pines remain, much of their abundance vanishing from the


November 2014 ttimes web magazine  

November 2014 Tidewater Times

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