My Book World
This combination of “travel writing, history, and memoir,” as blurbed on the back cover is a profound work. Walton, noted poet and author, takes the reader on a multilayer journey. One of those journeys may be the physical. He tells of the move his Mississippian parents make from their home state to Chicago as young adults to establish a better life for their children. One is always aware of the physical: the hot Mississippi summer days, the fields of blindingly white cotton, the cool of air conditioning and iced drinks. Walton takes pains to give us a full history of the state, beginning with the Native Americans who occupy the land for centuries before others arrive and kill or move them off. He doesn’t stop there but gives us a history of the slave, the African-American: lynchings, beatings, the cold war that Whites take up against Blacks after the Civil War. But Walton’s journey of Mississippi, which begins mostly after he is an adult, includes memories of visiting family there, interviewing a broad range of white and black citizens. He describes the “polite” way that citizens treat each other, as long as one observes one’s role. He also describes the fight for the vote, which continues to this day. Included in his personal comments are original poems of note that help to illuminate his narrative. History. Travel. Poetry. He appeals to the broad spectrum of human perception and sensibility. I regret that it took me this long to read a book I bought in 2006, ten years after it was published. Yet Walton’s message is still a vibrant one of truth.