Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Or My Life in Kincaid, Georgia by Terry Lee Kincaid III

by Daniel Micko

Pub Date: June 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5049-8654-0
Publisher: AuthorHouse

Micko’s debut novel addresses issues of racism in America by following a Southern family from the end of the Civil War to the early 20th century.

The narrator, Terry Lee Kincaid III, begins this complicated family saga by introducing readers to his paternal great-grandfather, Billy Ray, a member of the Ku Klux Klan who worked as a slave hunter before the Civil War. Billy Ray gets involved with a woman from an upper-class family, but their relationship falls apart because of his connections to the Klan. They have a son together, Terry Lee, but Billy Ray refuses to acknowledge him. Terry Lee grows up and starts a lucrative moonshine business with his best friend, an African-American man named Jim Spicer. Together, they scout out the land that becomes Kincaid, Georgia—a place where a white family and a black family can live peacefully alongside each other as equals. But the Klan disapproves of this, and they use their influence to have Jim and Terry Lee sent to jail. Their sons—Sonny Spicer and Terry Lee Jr.—are raised as brothers by Jim’s wife, Alberta. The two boys have a hard time staying out of trouble; they later end up in jail several times, and they eventually join the moonshine business. All sorts of danger and excitement ensue, leading to triumphs and tragedies that the young Terry Lee III describes with wide-eyed enthusiasm. The book does have its strong points: the characters live richly imagined, exciting, and unusual lives; the plot’s conflicts involving race are pertinent to social and political issues of today; and the folksy Southern style (“For all ya’ll who ain’t heard of Kincaid, I’ll tell you about it”) can be charming. But the story is also undermined by errors in punctuation and spelling (“verifyable”; “ultimatim”) from beginning to end, making the book seem more like a rough draft than a finished novel. As a result, many readers may lose patience with the book long before they reach its conclusion.

A lack of thorough editing makes the strengths of this historical tale difficult to appreciate.