“Sometimes I stop and try to figure out where the stories come from and why I write the way I do. I’m sure much of it is a result of the land I grew up on and the people who were trying to scratch a living from it. If he stays in contact with it long enough, the land will brand a man as surely as the red-hot iron brands a Western calf. I’m sure the flat, almost treeless, bayou-studded Delta of my early years, which later was replaced by Mississippi’s rolling, red clay hills, both left their marks on me….My father was a good storyteller and I suppose I picked up some of his talents. There is much satisfaction in telling a good story…”
Luke Boyd’s first collection of 25 short stories reflects the folk humor and local color that are hallmarks of Southern writing. His storytelling is the part remembrance of a culture that is gradually fading, part recollection of lessons learned over a lifetime. His matter-of-fact style and clarity of detail are cut from the cloth of the oral tradition that flourished in the rural South of his upbringing. He deftly places the hilarious story of chainsaw-toting Phinos Ledbetter and his botched baptism at the East Fork Southern Missionary Baptist Church alongside the powerful memory of an uncle known by the poor tenant farmhands he served only as “The Jesus Doctor.”
These unforgettable characters are depicted so clearly and accurately as to leave the reader guessing which stories are fact and which are imagined. And whether the teachers in these tales are smudged with the dust of chalk or caked with the mud of the field, their lives and lessons are faithfully recorded here in straightforward prose that evokes a special time and place.
For more stories from Luke Boyd, see Coon Dogs and Outhouses, Volume 2: Short Stories from the Mississippi Delta. ISBN # 978-1-59095-839-1
Dr. Lucas G. “Luke” Boyd was born in a three-room shotgun house on Jabe Dunaway’s place near Anguilla, Mississippi in the depths of the Depression. His father managed one of those sprawling cotton plantations the Delta was known for, and it is this plantation culture that left an indelible mark on young Luke.
After a stint in the Army and then earning a Ph.D. in English History at the University of Tennessee, he began a career in education that spanned 48 years both at the secondary and college levels. He retired after serving for 19 years as Principal of Battle Ground Academy, a private college preparatory school in Franklin, Tennessee.