Donald Davis: Homeplace Stories 

Now in his 60s, master storyteller Donald Davis recalls growing up in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina with richly detailed comic stories that reveal life's universal truths: that boys are mischievous and thoughtless; that mothers tend to nag, but ultimately are your greatest source of protection; and that grandmothers love you just as you are, and even more after you have consumed homemade pastries fried in real butter. In a dress shirt and bow tie, the slight Davis alternately clasps his hands in front of his chest and shakes them out beyond the microphone, while shifting his weight from foot to foot. Telling his embellished memories, he looks like the boy he must have once been, filled with so much energy, it surged through his limbs. Saturday night's memories included laying out a corpse, seeing a nun up close and driving down a winding country road with a snake on the dashboard. His mother's reaction when the snake leapt at her? Davis says, "She lost her punctuation. It was one long sentence for the rest of the night." If Davis strays into territory unfamiliar to you, he will eventually bring it back to the basics: the urge to explore freely, the fear of the unknown and, if you are lucky, a kind hand to guide you when not knowing becomes too much.

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