Synopses & Reviews
Janisse Ray grew up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, hidden from Florida-bound vacationers by the hedge at the edge of the road and by hulks of old cars and stacks of blown-out tires. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood tells how a childhood spent in rural isolation and steeped in religious fundamentalism grew into a passion to save the almost vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South. In language at once colloquial, elegiac, and informative, Ray redeems two Souths.
"Suffused with the same history-haunted sense of loss that imprints so much of the South and its literature. What sets Ecology of a Cracker Childhood apart is the ambitious and arresting mission implied in its title....Heartfelt and refreshing." The New York Times Book Review
"In [this book], you can open any page and out will fall words like pressed flowers and autumn leaves, vivid souvenirs of joy and loss....A memoir, a family history, and the ecology of a dying place, the book pivots between land and people, embracing both as rare and fragile. We are swept along like the resinous odor of pine needles in the balmy wind." Bloomsbury Review, January 2000* Glenda Burnside
"What sets Ecology of a Cracker Childhood apart is the ambitious and arresting mission implied in its title. Ray's lament for a lost landscape and a lost way of life centers on a South that has little acquaintance with cotillions, columned mansions or cotton plantations....[Her] passion for preserving and restoring this unsung landscape is heartfelt and refreshing. Ray's paeans to pokeweed and yellow pine become repetitive....[But h]er prose is much leaner and more affecting when she returns to the raw, man-made world in which she was raised, and the resourceful 'crackers' who inhabit it." Tony Horwitz, New York Times Book Review
"It's a compelling story, briefly told: For all the pine cones on its pages, [this book] is a bit short on biology, or even cracklin' good natural history....No matter: The memoir is better reading anyway, building from well-told tales of a skinned-knee girlhood in the junkyard flats of south Georgia." Jay Hardwig, Austin Chronicle
Having grown up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, Ray tells how a childhood spent in rural isolation and steeped in religious fundamentalism grew into a passion to save the almost-vanished longleaf pine ecosystem that once covered the South. 16 illustrations.