- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 24, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1490422978
- ISBN-13: 978-1490422978
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,530,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I Will Open My Mouth in Parables: Taradiddles and Tales of My West Virginia Home Paperback – July 24, 2013
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About the Author
Richard Smith, a native of Quick, West Virginia, currently lives in North Potomac, MD, near Washington, DC. He is owner of ScriptSmith, a media production company that primarily produces video-based training for Federal government agencies. Mr. Smith maintains ties to his roots by spending time in a lovely mountain hideaway in Hardy County, WV.
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But within this ancient-seeming world, strange enough by today's standards, Smith brings in yet another layer of subversion. For his characters, and their stories, more often than not represent those whose lives cannot be contained within the narrow confines of Quick, West Virginia's rigid, traditionally Christian morality, and its small-town suspicion of the "different." There's the "Disgrace," the fourteen-year-old expectant mother who arrives at Smith's junior high school one year, and whose fall from grace uncovers the buried shame of Smith's moralistic Aunt Hariette. There's Lefty, the deformed boy with a love of books, with whom Smith creates a mystery religion based on Popeye cartoons. And there's Mary Margaret Mahoney, the older teenaged girl who can't stay out of trouble, and for whom the younger Smith bears an aching crush, realizing that in all her rebellion, she "just wanted to learn about life." When a new young pastor with modern ideas and his wife arrive at the church, attracting a crowd of sophisticated young adults--soon ironically dubbed the "debonairs" by the wry locals--around them, Smith longs to be accepted into their company. And when the resident bootlegger's son is executed after a lethal encounter with the law, it is Smith's grandfather who agrees, against community sentiment, to help bury the disgraced man.
All these stories draw you into the mid-century world of Quick, a place where the descendants of Scots-Irish mountaineers still keep their own counsel and resist change, where the hills are everywhere surrounding, and where in the simple poverty of the region there is room for human beings to be seen, heard, and remembered. But it is when we arrive at two powerful stories near the volume's end that Smith really delivers his best medicine. "Red Wing Is My Brother," the volume's longest offering, tells the strangely beautiful tale of a man-child, the 23-year-old Lil' Joey Ramsey, forever frozen at the mental age of twelve after his brother cleaved his skull with an axe. Of course narrator Richie Smith, ever the soft touch for an outcast, befriends Lil' Joey, and they elaborate together an altered reality as Native Americans, the "Red Wing" of the title, and "Golden Eagle." Their status as blood brothers finally leads Smith to run afoul of the law, an act that has just caught up to him when this story begins many years later. And in "Robby," Smith connects the world of Quick with the wider history of the nation to which it belongs, relating the searing story of two local boys who go off to war on the Korean Penninsula, one never to return, the other coming home with wounds both physical and psychological. The story follows the ramifying effects of these losses on little Richie Smith and, more crucially, on his best friend Robby Robinson, whose brother never came home.
Perhaps this story is all the more poignant for the sense of home lost, for Quick is obviously where home is for Richard Smith, and after you read a few of these stories, too you will begin to feel at home among these honest, forthright people. Do yourself a favor, acquire a copy and delve into these tales from those deep hollows and towering hillsides, where all that really matters is friendship, truth, and knowing where home is.
Characterized by Smith's deadpan description of events and peopled with quirky characters, the stories are funny and surprisingly moving as well. Smith notes that they are best read aloud, and he's had great success as a storyteller sharing them with groups.
Although the residents of Quick have a Christian worldview, these stories are humanist in the best sense. Smith looks at the conflicts that inevitably result when fallible people all try to do the right thing in their own different ways.