TALES FROM A FREE-RANGE CHILDHOOD by Donald Davis

TALES FROM A FREE-RANGE CHILDHOOD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One rural boy's misadventures with his younger brother in the foothills of Appalachia.

Storyteller Davis conjures humorous tales from his boyhood, packaging them in memoir form. The author’s humor often takes on a grandfatherly tone—innocent and innocuous—allowing an older generation of readers to ease into a comfortable nostalgia, and his stories unapologetically sentimental. In “Too Much Hair,” older brother Donald tricks his brother Joe into receiving an amateur haircut, though the boys' father soon intercedes on his youngest son's behalf, offering Donald his own amateur haircut as retribution for his crimes. Similarly, in “Responsible,” Donald and Joe become addicted to a wrestling show, though their attempts to emulate the burly men leave them far more damaged than the performers on the screen. “Golf Tees” serves as a third example of tough lessons learned. After a 6-year-old Donald thoughtlessly swipes golf tees from a local store, his mother forces him to face the manager and own up to his mistakes. But when his mother realizes that her son's behavior will reflect poorly on her, she alters her allegiance, becoming his partner in crime by distracting the store's employees while her son returns the tees to their rightful place. Davis relies heavily on punch lines delivered from the mouths of babes, offering a collection of homespun stories that will undoubtedly appeal most to those who can relate to growing up in the 1940s and ’50s. While Donald and Joe share center stage, perhaps the collection's star is their father, a judicious man often forced into the roles of judge, jury and executioner as he wades through his sons' harmless disputes.

An overdramatic, occasionally clichéd recounting of a childhood in rural America.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-89587-507-5
Page count: 242pp
Publisher: John F. Blair
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2011