A decade has passed since I became acquainted with Jim Buford’s first work of fiction, "The House Across the Road." I am thrilled to once again be invited to Tucker’s Mill, Buford’s equivalent to Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County or Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.
In Buford’s latest collection of stories, Water Over the Dam, his main character, Ashley, guides the reader through the uncertainties of 1950s Alabama, offering wisdom through innocent eyes.
Buford allows the reader glimpses into how Ashley navigates quandaries that address religion, race, family, community, and young love. We meet a wonderful cast of characters, including Benny Trammel who doesn’t make a distinction between real life and what he sees on the television at the local mercantile; good-hearted Uncle Steve who often makes poor decisions; Brother Blanchard, a Baptist preacher; and a prophetess named Cassandra.
In his best stories, Buford offers insight into the lonely or dispossessed, those among us who become, for whatever reason, the “outsider” among their own community and kin. The author shines brightest when he treats universal themes as they are played out by ordinary people.
I urge you to join me, with Ashley as our guide, on a trip back in time, down Memory Lane, to a place called Tucker’s Mill.
The Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities will host a book launch for 'Water Over the Dam' on May 14 at 4 p.m. at Pebble Hill.
Marian Carcache is a local author and member of The Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers