Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina--a place "easy to pass by on the way somewhere else"--has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be "the rare bird, the oddity."
By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South--and in America today.
- ISBN-13: 9781571313157
- ISBN-10: 157131315X
- Publisher: Milkweed Editions
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 232
- Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-11
- Reviewer: Staff
In this insightful personal narrative, Lanham, an ornithologist and professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, recalls his childhood in rural South Carolina and how it led him into such an overwhelmingly white field. Lanham grew up in the boondocks among pine trees and wild turkeys. His parents planted and sold “watermelon, cantaloupe, butter beans, purple-hull peas, and an array of other crops” to city and suburban folks to supplement their schoolteacher salaries. A curious and avid reader, Lanham pored over encyclopedias and saw field guides as “treasure troves of information: pictures joyously stacked side by side with brief descriptions of what, where, and when.” When Lanham began bird-watching years later, he seldom encountered other African-Americans in the field carrying binoculars, and eventually realized how atypical a pastime it was for a black man. He was himself “the rare bird, the oddity: appreciated by some for different perspective and discounted by others as an unnecessary nuisance, an unusually colored fish out of water.” He would like to see this incongruity eliminated. Encouraging readers to pay closer attention to nature, Lanham gathers the disparate elements that have shaped him into a nostalgic and fervent examination of home, family, nature, and community. (Sept.)