Title: Just Plain Folks: Original Tales of Living, ...
Publisher: Summerhouse Pr
Publication Date: 1997
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Edition: First Edition.
1887714146 True First Edition (Summerhouse press precedes Little Brown) and First Printing. This hardcover book is square and tight. The boards and spine have no wear with pristine gilt. The pages and endpages are clean, with no markings or folds. The dustjacket is As New. Original Price is intact. Not ex-lib. No remainder mark. Bookseller Inventory # 001694
Synopsis: By returning to the cottonfields, tobacco barns and humble dwellings of her ancestral home in the rural South, author and cultural preservationist Lorraine Johnson-Coleman learned first-hand what is missing from the history books between the pages on slavery and present day African American culture. It is the experience of ordinary people who, on second glance, have led truly extraordinary lives. She developed an appreciation for their words, wit and wisdom and has made it her life's work to pass along their experiences.In this collection of original short stories, Johnson-CLomen pays homage to those ordinary folks--kinfolks, homefolks, waymakers, and caretakers through lyrical tributes that are almost musical to the ear. From the front porch to the shanty to the church pews, her characters come to life, bringing with them lessons about worship, courtship, social consciousness, naming practices, and burial traditions. This jewel of a book is in keeping with the author's mission to both entertain and educate about the African American experience; she concludes each story with an author's note that places it into its proper cultural perspective.Ultimately, "Just Plain Folks" is about folk culture as a continuum; a link back to the past to discover the essence of who African Americans are today. Maybe more importantly, it's beautiful thank-you note from one African American woman to some pretty awe-inspiring colored folks because sometimes it isn't so much about where we are or where we came from that's important, but how we got there.
Review: In her first collection of short stories, Just Plain Folks, Lorraine Johnson-Coleman writes about the everyday lives of ordinary African Americans in a small Southern town. These lively tales concern parts of the African American experience that history books don't often address. Many of the stories focus on one aspect of that experience, such as the importance of naming or the role of the preacher in the community. Johnson-Coleman tacks a short essay onto the end of each tale, which provides further historical and cultural context for the story. These afterwards are interesting, but they do make this collection seem a bit like a textbook.
Other stories in the collection, such as "Miz Lullabel, The Devil, and the Sunday Hat," are adapted from old folktales. In that story, a black woman bets the devil a new hat that she can cause marital discord in a household that had been so full of love that the devil has been unable to cause any trouble. It takes her about 10 minutes work--and after she's done, the devil thinks she's so powerful that he's afraid to get near her. While much of the book is devoted to fond, funny recollections of life in the South, the final segment of the book contains several moving stories about racial conflict. "Hagar's Children" and "Sara's Special Babies" both describe the aftermath of an incident in which a white man kills a young black couple. A black man who discovered the bodies tells his version of the story, then the white man's wife tells what she knows. These stories are vivid and well told. Readers who are curious about African American traditions and those who have a yen for folksy wisdom will likely enjoy reading about the extraordinary people in Just Plain Folks. --Jill Marquis
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