The honesty with which Humphrey writes about his divided parents and himself in the small East Texas town of Clarksville in the 1930s makes these memoirs almost painfully moving. It also prevents them from being the Waltonesque exercise in sentimentality that the title might suggest. After Humphrey's scrappy, pintsized father was killed in an automobile accident on the Fourth of July, 1937, the author and his mother left Clarksville, and he didn't return until 32 years later. The town, his childhood, his love for his parents who no longer could easily love one another, were sealed off in his memory. Reopened now, everything is fresh: the town clock strikes, cotton farmers cross the square, his mother sets the table, his father comes in grimy from the garage, the ordinary is seen as the extraordinary thing it is only discovered to be after it is lost. The book shows that children aren't the only hostages we give fortune; parents, although not of our choosing, also play that role, particularly in hard times like the Thirties. Elizabeth Janeway once said that Humphrey, whose fiction includes Home from the Hill and The Ordways, ""is a writer who can interest us in anything."" He has written one of the best evocations of a small American town that is likely to appear for a long time.