They say you can’t go home again. I tend to agree. Though you can physically make the trip to where you grew up, it’s never the same as before you left. People come and go, the landscape changes, life moves on. What a comfort to always have the memories of our childhood homes just the way we left them!
In The Coal Tattoo by Silas House (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $22.95), going home again is a recurring theme. The novel reconnects the reader to characters from House’s previous work, A Parchment of Leaves, tuning in two generations later in these characters’ lives. Two sisters who have lost all their immediate family members make up the core of this story. Easter, described as a “devout Pentecostal,” is the good girl who always makes time to pray and tries to keep her younger sister, Anneth, from being the talk of their small eastern Kentucky town. Anneth, however, simply wants to live life to the fullest with no guilt and no regrets. She has no use for Easter’s hard-and-fast rules about what is right and wrong. After finding that life is not always that easy, Anneth learns a good bit about the difficulty of going home again. While Anneth never really seems to grow up completely, Easter matures beyond her years while dealing with a devastating loss, fighting to keep her childhood home, and struggling through a crisis of faith.
For those with family members who have moved away from our beautiful Bluegrass State, consider the latest collection from the Cookbook Ladies, Truly Kentucky, A Culinary Gift from the Bluegrass (McClanahan Publishing House, $9.95), to remind them of home. This gift-sized cookbook covers everything Kentucky from beer cheese to country ham and burgoo. Also included are recipes from some of Kentucky’s well-known inns and restaurants as well as several bourbon-influenced recipes. As always, the Cookbook Ladies’ recipes are simple and easy to follow with scrumptious results. Be sure to pick up a copy of your own while buying this wonderful little gift book.
If you were a child who played with dolls, do you still have your favorite? I have a doll, very old and tattered now, that used to be my mother’s. You can just look at it and tell how much she loved it. If you have an affinity for dolls, you will be fascinated by the craftsmanship of the dolls pictured in Contemporary American Doll Artists and Their Dolls by Kathryn Witt, who regularly writes articles for Kentucky Living (Collector Books, $29.95). Each profile includes several pictures of the artist’s work, stories behind the doll’s creation, and the author’s inspiration, or wellspring as Witt calls it. The artists are grouped into categories based on the type of dolls they create. With its abundant full-color pictures, this would make a great coffee-table book, especially for the avid doll collector.
Two-time Kentucky Derby winner Jimmy Winkfield is an obscure phenomenon in the world of horse racing. Ed Hotaling brings Winkfield’s story to light in Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield (McGraw-Hill, $22.95). Winkfield seems to have been drawn to horses from his beginning, working as a stable boy during his childhood, then in later years being responsible for exercising the horses. At the young age of 16, he began to race and win. Racism in this country eventually drove him to Europe where African-American jockeys were not threatened with violence as they were in America. Even so, Hotaling talks of Winkfield always wanting to come back to his home in the Bluegrass. I suppose even fame and fortune doesn’t always remove that desire to go back home again.