Reviewed by Julia Oliver
This handsomely produced book is the initial project of Mockingbird Publishing, a unique enterprise in Fairhope, Alabama, that has been formed to partner good causes with talented writers. As noted on the Web site by president/editor Ashley Gordon: "We invite authors to tell us about causes they want to support, encourage nonprofits to share with us stories that need to be told, and welcome our readers to suggest authors and causes that would be perfect for each other." In addition to Gordon and her staff, the magical combination here includes eloquent narrative by novelist T. R. Pearson and full-color, artistic photography by Langdon Clay. The real-life main character, Lucas McCarty, is a white boy with cerebral palsy, an exuberant spirit, and a heart of gold.
Pearson is writerly observant, but he also plays a role here as compassionately involved narrator. He and his subject met when the latter was twenty years old; by the end of the book, Lucas has turned twenty-two. An active member of the choir, Lucas McCarty is the only non-black member of the The Trinity House of Prayer, a church in Moorhead, Mississippi, that is not affiliated with any denomination. The author explains upfront, "Trinity is sanctified." Lucas has difficulty speaking and articulating, but he is cheerful, resourceful, and outgoing. He likes to walk around on his knees. His family, neighbors, and the church clergy and congregation are wonderfully supportive of him.
Much of the content in this ninety-page book is a paean to the geography known as the Mississippi Delta. Among the towns of that region are Greenwood, which is euphemistically proclaimed on municipal signs as "The Cotton Capital of the World," Greenville, Sunflower, Metcalf, and Granada. The next to the last and one of the most interesting of eight titled chapter-essays, “The Boats,” covers the relatively short history of gambling in Mississippi (or "gaming," as it was called in the state’s legislature).
The cover blurbs include impressive tributes from John Grisham and the actor Morgan Freeman. April 2011
Julia Oliver’s column, The Literary Scene, appears in The Montgomery Advertiser on the third Sunday of each month.