While fiction about the 1950s Civil Rights era is far from rare, few capture the period and struggles from the perspective of a white child.
A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten back country of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like the Blind Man tells the story of a white youth cast aside in the segregated South of the 1950s, and the forces he must overcome to restore order to his world.
Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand, a fact that lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky. Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention the local Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. Soon, however, he finds his worldviews changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion and the true cause of his father’s death.
Buy the book, and follow the author on social media:
Learn more about the writer. Visit the Author’s Website.
Buy the Book On Amazon.
Visit the Facebook Fan Page.
Visit the Twitter page.
Dead Chicken Memories…
I grew up around Detroit, but would sometimes spend a week or two – once I spent six weeks – in Kentucky, my birth state, staying with cousins or with my grandparents. It was an entirely different world for me, providing some of the best and worst times of my growing up years. I had a great time on a dairy farm there with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparent’s old farm house with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother’s screened-in back porch.
Certain aspects of these growing up years did come to light in the novel, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story, knowingly at times, and at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs.
As conveyed above, I spent several of my growing-up summers in what to me was this Kentucky wilderness. While my big city prejudices and toxic beliefs about ‘hillbillies’ were quashed there, my prejudices against ‘colored people’ were largely supported.
With each trip I became more and more confounded by a white culture that could be very loving of its own kind but not of those belonging to the black culture. It wasn’t until college and the advent of the Civil Rights Movement that I began to untangle this confusion. Then Like the Blind Man fictionalizes and captures aspects of this journey.