A warm and honest memoir,
This review is from: The Last Days: A Son's Story Of Sin And Segregation At The Dawn Of A New South (Paperback)
Marsh grew up in Mississippi during the 1960s, the only child in a family who were neither racist nor vocal civil rights advocates. Theirs is a story rarely heard because it is not one of dramatic heroism or tragedy. Yet it's the real-life story of many of us who grew up in the deep south during that era.
Marsh has a gift for remembering the humorous detail. His story-telling skills are sharp and biting. We can see Laurel, Miss., close-up through a child's eyes. Yet those things we see are presented with the clarity gained from decades of maturity and reflexion.
I know a couple of people who are contemporaries of the author, who grew up in his hometown and church. After I told them how much I enjoyed the book and how the book makes Laurel seem like a nice place, they seemed dumbfounded. They said that folks in Laurel were upset with how the town is presented. I can understand why they might be upset by some of the events and people Marsh recalls, but I never perceived any hostility the author has towards Laurel. Rather, the majority of people and the town itself serve as a pleasant balance to the few evil people and events which take place.
Not quite told with the wit and timing of a Ferrol Sams fictionalized memoir (Run With the Horsemen, for example), The Last Days still mines an earlier South (although Sams' era is the 30s-40s) and discovers treasures in the most humble of places: the home, the school, the church, the playing field. Another book that comes to mind is Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys (October Sky) with its deep yet subtle insight into the relationship (good and bad) of father and son.