Ecology of a Cracker Childhood


I’m on a family vacation in Florida, about as far away from Southern Georgia as you can get culturally. But I just finished Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray.

“Cracker Childhood” was one of the first books I read when I moved to Asheville. It has nothing to do with the mountains but it was about the South and I was devouring anything. I reread it to study how a serious memoir can be a popular book.

Ray talks about her poor, religious childhood  but she also has serious discussions about the environment of the coastal plains. Every other chapter is about loss of some kind – longleaf pines, red-cockaded woodpeckers, wiregrass, bachman sparrow … Loggers took out as many longleaf pines as they could and upset the balance of nature, all dependent on longleaf pines.

She describes her background as coming from Oglethorpe’s debtor prison folks. I sat up and took notice. A few days ago, I didn’t even know about that history. But now that I visited Fort Frederica, I knew what she was talking about.


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