Engaging fish-out-of-water memories—think Green Acres but much better—that should appeal to anyone with fantasies about...


The Awkward Ozarker


A newspaper columnist shares humorous stories of being a “city slicker” in the country.

Native Arkansan Hurt (Healer’s Twilight, 2000) is no stranger to the “hillbilly” tag that’s typically attached to Arkansas in general and the Ozarks in particular. That awareness gives his homespun memoir much of its charm. It has an easygoing, regional appeal that reflects the author’s background as a columnist whose credits range from the Jonesboro Sun in Arkansas to the Wall Street Journal. Hurt and his wife are flatlanders from the part of Arkansas that’s not the Ozarks, but they still ended up the owners of a rustic—to put it kindly—cabin on 27 acres of land on Hogback Mountain. As he notes, “Chance and serendipity play a larger role in our lives than we often care to admit, and this is what makes things so interesting and unpredictable.” He’s not kidding: consider a town meeting he describes, which includes “a quick demo on making a filter from a tin can and piece of wire, plus a refresher course in how to properly use a whistle” and the passing around of a book titled Mushrooming Without Fear. At the same time, the author is fiercely protective of his home: he can make fun of local follies, such as a medieval castle that a local started and never finished, but he’s not amused when the New York Times publishes “a snarky article” titled “Fixer-Upper. Ozarks Views. Vassals Welcome.” Hurt writes with a certain courtliness and a dry sense of humor; he freely admits that he and his wife are precisely the sort of “yuppie homesteaders” targeted by the Williams-Sonoma catalog, with its “ever-so-cute chicken coop made of red cedar.” Still, the book’s main thread is how connected the author feels to the Arkansas mountains. One criticism of the memoir is that some stories just dribble away without resolution, such as one about a young woman in an orange Camaro who barrels down a highway and into a ditch. Hurt checks on her; she’s OK and explains that she’s en route to file her marriage license—and that’s about it. But for the most part, the author makes good company.

Engaging fish-out-of-water memories—think Green Acres but much better—that should appeal to anyone with fantasies about trading bright city lights for the back country.

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973256-0-7

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Fairbourne Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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