Wild Card Quilt
From the author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood comes a story of family, geography, and home.
Janisse Ray is known for her passion for the virgin longleaf pine forests that once covered the South. But she is also passionate about conserving the richness and complexity of rural communities. In these short pieces—sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking—Ray chronicles her return to a hometown in need of repair, physical and otherwise, after seventeen years away. Whether celebrating local characters and traditions, like syrup boils and alligator trapping; fighting to save the town’s school; or spending time with her extended family, Ray dares to hope that such fragments—once saved—can pattern a vibrant, sustainable future for both people and the land.
Colorful and affectionate, Wild Cart Quilt crafts a compelling argument for the possibilities of rural community.
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Praise and Prizes
“Alive with good imagery and colorful characters . . . Janisse Ray is a born advocate, defending, among other things, rivers and streams, the civil rights movement, old houses, community schools, organic gardening and small towns. Hometowns, she understands, are worth saving.”
“Janisse Ray returns after seventeen years to her native Baxley, Georgia, to rebuild her life. In the process, this passionate environmentalist and community advocate comes to rebuild so much more.”
“Marvelous . . . Whether stitching a quilt, boiling syrup, planting seeds or wading in a swamp, her attention to what really matters never strays. Community, family and sustainable existence respectful of the natural world are her lodestars. Janisse Ray has a lot of heart, and, thankfully, she’s not afraid to let it show.”
“Episodic stories told on a scale that makes the raw beauty of an imperfect place shine . . . Piece by small piece Wild Card Quilt works to counteract what Janisse Ray calls ‘the cultural poverty’ of a rural place.”
“A fine introduction to elemental truths about a region and its people . . . Real Southerners, even those a generation or two away from the farm, will see their kin in Janisse Ray’s depictions.”
“Her memoir isn’t a social critique or a utopian communitarian vision. Rather, Janisse Ray’s somewhat Quixotic attempt to connect with her roots is told in the tone of wistfulness and quiet hopefulness, occasionally broken by sharp humor.”
“Affectionate . . . Memorable . . . Janisse Ray celebrates the richness of the natural world and the comforts of family.”