Thursday, May 02, 2013

Alabana moves to East Texas--great folk tales

Want to hear a seemingly authentic East Texas voice spinning tales of World War II times and little towns and gossip and local characters? And talking about such radio programs as Fibber McGee and such things as blackouts--you have to be of a certain age to remember these things, but they were all nostalgic to me. To hear about them just listen to Jim Lee read from his new collection of short stories, A Texas Jubilee (TCU Press). Now Jim will be the first to tell you that many of these stories are based on incidents he remembers from his home town of Leeds, Alabama, and many of the characters come from there. But being, as he now is, the grandfather of Texas folk tales and folklore (and a Fellow of the Texas Folklore Society), he moved  them to his adopted state where he's lived longer than I care to tell you. At first, he set these tales in Bonham but then he decided he didn't know enough about Bonham, so he moved them to the fictional town of Bodark Springs and the characters and stories began to emerge almost on their own, with Jim as a conduit. He'll tell you he's not a writer but he is--he's a master of the short story. He'll also tell you the stories have much in common with Alabama, because East Texas is the South, and anywhere east of I-35 is the South; west of that highway is the West.
Delightful evening tonight. The Bookish Frogs (another name for friends of TCU Press) met at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens for a pot-luck supper and evening with Jim Lee. An impromptu happy hour developed at my house first, with Melinda, production manager at the press, and Carol Roark who said she was going and did I want a ride, and then Christian who came along to get Jacob and stayed an hour, and finally Elizabeth who wandered in after making movies with Jacob. We had a happy time, nibbling on this wonderful rosemary/olive oil asiago cheese I get at Central Market, so wonderful Carol and I were almost late to the party.
Dinner was good--it's amazing the things people bring to pot-luck suppers. One good friend always brings a bok choy salad because it's such a hit. There was potato salad and--be still my heart!--spanakopita (so delicious), tuna salad, fried chicken and ribs, and so much more. I made a layered salad--one of those retro things where you layer the salad, spread mayo and sour cream on the top and let it sit all night. Green peas are an essential ingredient--except I forgot and found them on the counter after I'd' finished off the salad and no way to add them then. They'll be good on leftover salad tomorrow.
I saw people I hadn't seen in a while and was glad to see, missed some familiar faces, but all in all it was a lovely evening. And Jim was the star, as he always is whenever he speaks. If anyone ever had a natural talent for humor, it's Jim Lee. So, cheers for him and his new book. May he sell many, many copies.

No comments: