**** A reprint of the Harvard University Press edition (1984), a William E. Massey, Sr. lecture in the history of American civilization (1983); and recommended by BCL3. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
'One Writer's Beginnings' would probably be better appreciated by readers who have read at least a short story or two by the late Ms. Welty. (She passed away last year.) Her style and charm are obvious from the first page, but if this is the first contact a reader has had with Welty, he or she may not appreciate the book fully.
First of all, I should speak to what the book is NOT: It is not a how-to-be-a-writer book. It will not teach you how to tighten up your stories, how to plot, how to sell your stories, or anything else of a practical nature in the writing business. It is not a strict autobiography, although parts of Welty's life are described in detail. It is not a book to breeze through, even though it comes in at slightly over 100 pages.
What is the book? It is actually a series of three lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1983 when the writer was 74 years old. The three parts are titled as follows:
I. Listening - As a child, Welty spent many hours watching and listening to the people around her in Jackson, Mississippi. She carefully absorbed their stories and how they told them. She began to listen to and fall in love with words.
II. Learning to See - As she stepped outside of her home to visit relatives along with her parents, Welty makes some wonderful discoveries about her family in West Virginia and Ohio. Time is "a continuous thread of revelation."
III.Read more ›
The book has charm and a wonderful mood about it. It's like sitting in the parlor of an old southern mansion while your gentle and eloquent Aunt recalls fascinating times gone by.
Perhaps Ms. Welty is one of the few literary authors who claims no childhood crutch to lean on. She had wonderful parents and relatives who nurtured her creativity and encouraged her dreams.
It's a fine thing that she pays homage to them in this wonderful little book.