John Bentley Mays left the American South because, like many members of his generation, he believed a larger, more interesting life awaited him beyond his ancestral land . . . Decades later the death of Mays's aunt Vandalia summoned him back to Louisiana. He began to explore the secrets of Vandalia's house and his own past, and experienced a ...
John Bentley Mays left the American South because, like many members of his generation, he believed a larger, more interesting life awaited him beyond his ancestral land . . . Decades later the death of Mays's aunt Vandalia summoned him back to Louisiana. He began to explore the secrets of Vandalia's house and his own past, and experienced a reawakening of feelings about his heritage--and the stereotypes and contradictions that exist in today's South. Moving through the Virginia tidewater forests, colonial plantations, and rural towns in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana where Mays's antebellum relatives lived throughout 400 years of American history, "Power in the Blood" is a poignant memoir composed during the course of one man's quest for truth.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-10-20 Toronto Globe and Mail art critic Mays spent his early childhood on a Louisiana cotton plantation. The death of a reclusive widowed aunt in 1990 took him back, at age 49, triggering a search for roots. Mays describes himself as a Southerner at heart, contending that despite his embrace of modernist art and literature and of an urbanized Northern mentality, the Old South's traditions of civility and devotion to the land have indelibly molded his character. This intensely personal, elegiac memoir has the makings of a Southern Gothic?an alcoholic father whose death in 1947 may have been a murder; his mother's agonizing death from cancer; the author's chronic depression, his breakdown and recovery on an island off the coast of Ireland. Mays focuses on family genealogy, beginning with an Anglican minister who arrived in Virginia in 1610, through several generations of Methodist planters, merchants, lawyers, teachers, Confederate soldiers and politicians from the Carolinas to east Texas. Mays's evocative portrait speaks volumes about the Old South and its pull on the modern imagination. (Nov.)
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