Truth by Ellen Douglas
Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell

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Synopsis

In four haunting family stories, Ellen Douglas seeks to track down the truth--about herself, about her white Mississippi forebears, about their relationships to black Mississippians, and ultimately about their guilt as murderers of helpless slaves. Progressively searching further and further back in time, each of these four family tales involves collusion and secrets. In "Grant," a randy old uncle dying in the author's house is nursed by a beautiful black woman while his white family watches from a "respectful" distance. Who loves him better? When truth is death, who is braver facing it? In "Julia and Nellie," very close cousins make "a marriage in all but name" back in the days of easy scandal. The nature of the liaison never mentioned, the family waives its Presbyterian morality in the face of family deviance. In "Hampton," her grandmother's servant, who has constructed a world closed to whites, evades the author's tentative efforts at a meeting of minds. And finally, in "On Second Creek," Douglas confronts her obsession with the long-lost--or -buried--facts of the "examination and execution" of slaves who may or may not have plotted an uprising. Having published fiction for four decades, here she crosses over into the mirror world of historical fact. It's a book, she says, "about remembering and forgetting, seeing and ignoring, lying and truth-telling." It's about secrets, judgments, threats, danger, and willful amnesia. It's about the truth in fiction and the fiction in "truth." Praise for Ellen Douglas: "It's possible to think that some people were simply born to write. Ellen Douglas is just such a writer."--Richard Ford; "Proust wrote in one of his last letters, 'one must never be afraid of going too far, for the truth is beyond.' Ellen Douglas has taken this very much to heart and has sought the truth in a region beyond falsehood; through falsehood, in effect. It's a fascinating performance."--Shelby Foote.
 

About Ellen Douglas

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Ellen Douglas was the pen name of Josephine Ayres Haxton, who was born in Natchez, Mississippi on July 12, 1921. She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1942. During her lifetime, she wrote eleven books, including six novels and several collections of short stories and essays. Her novels include Apostles of Light, The Rock Cried Out, A Family's Affairs, A Lifetime Burning, and Can't Quit You, Baby. She won a lifetime achievement award in 2008 from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. She died after an extended illness on November 7, 2012 at the age of 91.
 
Published January 9, 1998 by Algonquin Books. 234 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Truth

Kirkus Reviews

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In others (“Hampton” and “On Second Creek,” in which she strives to understand the 1861 massacre of slaves belonging to her family), neither her fictionalizing nor the spotty family record is enough to fill in the missing links.

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Publishers Weekly

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After 40 years of exploring Southern life through fiction such as the NBA finalist, Apostles of Light, Mississippi native Douglas turns to nonfiction in these deeply felt reminiscences full of family skeletons, tragedies, crises and the ghosts of the Deep South.

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Publishers Weekly

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(Oct.) FYI: For each copy sold through the U.S. trade market, the publisher will donate $1 to First Book, a national organization that provides books to needy children .

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Book Reporter

He asks if the Judaism that is practiced in modern homes, temples and synagogues, the Judaism that is promoted by modern Jewish organizations, is in fact a viable and authentic Judaism at all.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Truth: Four Stories I Am Fina...

Independent.ie

Julieann Campbell, niece of the first victim, is concerned to describe the struggle of the families of the victims to secure an independent international inquiry to wipe out the stain of the Widgery Report which, in the words of Bishop Daly (a hero in both versions), found the guilty innocent and...

Feb 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Truth: Four Stories I Am Fina...

People

Douglas's themes—race relations, family, truth and memory, polite behavior and unruly passions—make the lessons and the legacy of the past seem timely and contemporary.

Sep 28 1998 | Read Full Review of Truth: Four Stories I Am Fina...

Spirituality & Practice

At the same time that it makes them feel proud and strong, their version of the truth creates fear and anger in them for others who do not share their truth.

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The Truth About Guns

After my book review of Stephen Hunter’s 2010 release, Dead Zero, I didn’t think that the good folks at Simon & Schuster would be offering me an advance review copy of another book, especially something written by Stephen Hunter.

Dec 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Truth: Four Stories I Am Fina...

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