My Grandfather's Finger

Edward Swift

Photographs by Lynn Lennon

Title Details

Pages: 256

Illustrations: 39 b&w photos

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.000in



Pub Date: 05/01/1999

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2100-4

List Price: $29.95

My Grandfather's Finger

Edward Swift

Photographs by Lynn Lennon

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Not long ago the Big Thicket of East Texas was still one of those places singular in its southernness, like the Mississippi Delta or the Carolina Low Country. Now its old-timers and their ways are nearly gone.

They will not be forgotten, though, for in My Grandfather’s Finger Edward Swift recalls a Big Thicket populated by family and friends as gloriously vibrant and enigmatic as the land itself. From Camp Ruby to nearby Woodville and all the swamps, bayous, and forests in between, Swift shows us a place and time so fecund with humor, tragedy, and good talk that, in growing up there, he had no choice but to become a novelist.

We meet, among many others, Mother, a widowed war bride who would spring-clean the inside of her house with a garden hose, and Aunt Coleta, childlike and always surrounded by an entourage of kids half enchanted by her and half scared witless. Then there are Uncle Frank, who, with self-fulfilling flair, would have drawn a pistol at the merest suggestion that his family was dysfunctional, and, of course, Grandfather, who lost his finger to a machete and his mind to cough medicine.

A mystical world of carnivals, talking fiddles, houses on wheels, atomic bombs, and total-immersion baptisms, Edward Swift’s Big Thicket was also a world in which he was loved unconditionally—and that alone makes it worth getting to know.

My Grandfather's Finger is a ravishing tapestry of tales woven together with wicked wit, keen kindness, and helpless truth. Edward Swift is a literary treasure.

—Beth Henley, author of Crimes of the Heart

I am grateful for the opportunity to read Mr. Swift's wonderful book. I loved it—family life remembered in detail but with such affection.

—Quentin Crisp

Story telling is back! Edward Swift's new book, My Grandfather's Finger is a natural for readers who identify with sleeping porches, butter churns, wood-burning stoves and other delights of living in the Big Thicket of Texas. Time moves at human pace and characters are encouraged in this charming book.

—Liz Carpenter, author of Ruffles and Flourishes

Utterly beguiling. A work of charm, wit, honesty, and heart.

—Carole Maso, author of Defiance

My Grandfather's Finger is a delightful book—sad and funny, nostalgic and tough-minded, moving and hilarious, with an array of wonderfully rendered characters rich enough to fill more books. It is a splendid enactment of storytelling, each tale standing on its own but also setting off memories for the next. Swift's writing is honest and forthright on the one hand and loving on the other. He appears to love these crazies not despite their faults, but for them. If we don't tell these stories, there'll be no one else left to, and they will vanish. I'm glad Edward Swift didn't let that happen.

—Jim Corder, author of Yonder

The characters you meet in this book make Bailey White's seem like everyday folks.

Austin American-Statesman

Funny and poignant, this anecdotal memoir of a World War II childhood in an isolated hamlet in east Texas avoids nostalgia and reveals a darkness on the edges of the town and on the edges of the stories.


About the Author/Editor

Edward Swift (Author)
EDWARD SWIFT is a novelist and visual artist who lives in New York. He is the author of five books, including Mother of Pearl and Splendora, the latter of which has been performed on the stage and adapted for film.

Lynn Lennon (Photographer)
LYNN LENNON, whose work has been widely exhibited, lives in Dallas. Her books include Dogmatically Speaking and Categorically Speaking.