“Read this book to discover the lost continent of childhood.”
—Kansas City Star
“What a surprise to recapture your past in Boonville, Missouri, although you haven’t grown up there. That’s what happens while reading Davis’s memoir of mid-century childhood in middle America.”
"While Boonville, Missouri is not the hub of the universe, it may well represent typical small-town America in the 1940s and 1950s. Davis, author of several books on prose and poetry, grew up in Boonville, and his recollections help to reconstruct life in a gentler time. Full of reflections on family, race relations, games, and the sexes, Mid-Lands is an honest appraisal of one man's growth into adolescence and awareness of life beyond his hometown. An entertaining and readable selection."
Mapping out a cosmos bounded by heaven, hell, Kansas City, and St. Louis, Robert Murray Davis looks back on his life in central Missouri in the 1940s and 1950s. As he recalls his youth and early adulthood in the town of Boonville, Davis wryly contemplates some of the sharp dichotomies by which his world was ordered: grown-ups and kids, blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, boys and girls, town and country, work and play, art and life.
Davis sees now that as he grew up in white, postwar mid-America, he seldom pondered the limitations that its “either/or” perspective on life imposed. Sometimes, however, intimations about the world’s complexity were too strong for him to ignore. The presence of an occasional black teammate in baseball jarred him into the realization that he knew nothing about some segments of Boonville society. The boldness of the first girl in his class to wear makeup repelled and attracted him—and confused him about sex even more than did his Catholic education. Many of Davis’s recollections involve his family and read like captions to snapshots in a family album. Anything said or done by a family member had story potential, and Davis learned at an early age that transgressions were judged less harshly if their retelling enhanced an already varied and idiosyncratic family saga. Combining memoir with social history and inspired storytelling, Mid-Lands is a reflective and entertaining evocation of regional American life.
List price: $24.95
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