Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell
Book: Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell , by Ellen Douglas, ISBN10: 1565122143, ISBN13: 9781565122147, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., January 1998, Hardcover
Ellen Douglas is the pseudonym for Josephine Haxton, whose family roots extend back to the earliest settlements in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Her fiction has won many prizes, including the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, the Hillsdale Prize for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She lives now in Jackson, Mississippi.
Proust wrote in one of his last letters, 'one must never be afraid of going too far, for the truth is beyond.' Ellen Douglas has taken this very much to heart and has sought the truth in a region beyond falsehood; through falsehood, in effect. It's a fascinating performance. -- Shelby Foote
Now that she has outlived those who might have objected to her telling four family secrets, Ellen Douglas does just that.
A novelist revered for her storytelling, here she crosses over into the mirror world of historical fact to tell four stories in which she seeks the truth--about herself, about her white Mississippi forebears, about their relationships to black Mississippians, and ultimately, about their guilt as murderers of helpless slaves. In collection, they make a book its author describes as "about remembering and forgetting, seeing and ignoring, lying and truth-telling. It's about secrets, judgements, threats, danger, and willful amnesia. It's about the truth in fiction and the fiction in 'truth.'"
Josephine Haxton, who took the pseudonym Ellen Douglas in 1962 to protect her family's privacy upon publication of her first novel, is the author of seven previous books, all fiction. Two of them, A Family's Affair and Black Cloud, White Cloud were both included in the New York Times Book Review's Year's Ten Best listings. Her fourth novel, Apostles of Light, was a finalist for the National Book Award. At seventy-seven, Douglas has won respect as a novelist who dared to chip away at the wall blocking communication between Southern Whites and blacks.
Now she turns her extraordinary powers of observation directly onto events that involve her own blocked communications and thestruggle to make sense of them. The result is perhaps this complex and important writer's most complex and important work. As USA Today has said of her work, "Racism is not simply a failure to understand others, Douglas suggests, but most profoundly a failure to understand one's own condition. To find a so subtle and important an idea...is as rare and welcome a thing as wisdom."
...[N]ot so much dishy revelations as...intrepid inquiries as to how one approximates the truth....Douglas marches fearlessly through [the stories], surely getting closer to truth than most because she so boldly acknowledges its elusiveness. The New York Times Book Review
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