Second Edition with NEW EXTRA CONTENT! Following in the tradition of Alabama memoirist Rick Bragg, Don't Date Baptists explores the world of Bessemer, Alabama, circa 1960's-70's from the eyes of a boy who grew up there, struggling to understand the divide of race, class, religion, and neighborhood anxiety. Essayist Terry Barr learns from his parents that not all love is the same; that certain neighbors are not to be trusted; that crosses and stars and popular music can with seamless metamorphosis signal danger, desire, hate, and deep abiding love. While public pools might be filled with clay to prevent integrated swimming, or so-called friends might slur those darker than themselves, this southern boy learns to appreciate how these incidents and relationships have challenged and molded him into the teacher, writer and unapologetic Bessemer man that he is. With humor and poignant authenticity, Barr captures what it means to come of age as the New South cuts its teeth, with much trial and terrible error, in territory that is rich and explosive, devastating and beautiful. Praise for "Don't Date Baptists and Other Warnings From My Alabama Mother: " "Within this collection, we see Barr working to make sense of what the Drive-By Truckers labeled 'the duality of the Southern Thing. '" --Dr. Molly McGehee, Professor of Southern Studies, Emory at Oxford College. "Terry Barr's stories of growing up in a small Alabama town are gemstones illuminating the conflicting loves and loyalties of family, race, class, and religion as lived out in the pre-Civil Rights era (1950 - 1970's roughly). Barr's explorations are heartfelt and humble, filled with questions that aren't easy to answer but well worth thinking about long after this book is put down. A few of the stand-out essays are 'Neither the Season, Nor the Time, ' 'Searching for Higher Ground, ' and 'In It's Infancy, ' but Barr's insight and life-earned wisdom flow through the entire book. --Adrienne Ross Scanlan, Nonfiction Editor, Blue Lyra Review, and author of Turning Homeward - Restoring Hope and Nature in the Urban Wild "TERRY TELLS STORIES that are uniquely his and at the same time collectively ours. His cast of characters will have you nodding your head and saying, 'Yes...I know those people, too!' He peels back his life with mature, discerning, perceptive eyes and invites us into his growing up and home town experience. He's a story teller who isn't afraid to share his doubts, joys, anger, sorrows, and soul." -Wanda Meade, writer/photographer "IN TERRY BARR'S essays we hear an authentic Southern voice rooted in a particular time and place: Bessemer, AL, beginning in the 1950's. He brings to bear a historian's delight in concrete details combined with a probing sensitivity to the psychological tensions and complexities beneath the surface of characters and events." -Steve Beauchamp, Poet "TERRY BARR'S BEAUTIFUL, straight from the heart writings remind us of memory's healing power; they are evocative of places I know very well but have never been, of people with whom I'm intimately familiar but have never met. These are remarkable personal essays-funny, wistful in the right measure, smart, and heartbreaking." -Leslie T. White, Professor of English, University of New Orleans
Terry Barr is a Professor of Modern Literature and Creative Writing at Presbyterian College in upstate South Carolina. His essays have been widely published in print and online in such journals as The Bitter Southerner, Hippocampus, Deep South Magazine, Blue Lyra Review, Blue Bonnet Review, Steel Toe Review, and Red Truck Review. He lives in Greenville, SC, with his wife, two daughters, and their beloved pets, Morgan and Max (the Carolina Wild Dog).