Picks and Pans Review: The Redneck Way of Knowledge

updated 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Blanche McCrary Boyd

The author grew up in South Carolina with a burning desire to escape. At 18, she married and moved to California. After seven years she divorced and went to New York, experienced just about everything that was trendy in the '70s, and then went home, to try to understand her past. In chronicling that history in this collection of 11 essays, Boyd shows herself to be a wonderful stylist. (She has published two novels and writes for magazines such as Esquire and Playboy.) Her subjects are wide-ranging: the Pope's Mass in Yankee Stadium, racism, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and a hurricane. Her accounts often balance serious considerations with a lot of hard drinking, vivid insights and belly laughs. Through the years she has always been afraid of falling and of noise, so she takes up skydiving and spends an afternoon nearly going deaf at a stock car race. After being back home for a while, she writes, "Living here in South Carolina, I am afraid that the critical faculties I worked so hard to develop while I was in New York will turn blue and fall off." They haven't. (Knopf, $10.95)

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