My Little Town turns the Yankee-comes-to-Dixie literary genre outside in, examining Marion, Alabama, through the eyes of someone who should never have been living there and yet found himself there for more than a decade. With a keen appreciation of its peculiarly Southern tableau, the book lovingly scrutinizes an Alabama village short chapter by short chapter, accompanied by photographer Jerry Siegel's captivating work from the Black Belt. Funeral visitations, poisoned soup luncheons, Pilgrimage hosting, supper clubs, family feuds, Obama Day parades, politics, Jews, and chicken salad recipes are all treated with a voice of singular precision and affection. Simultaneously author David Tipmore couples this fresh view of Southern small-town life with his own narrative of a worldly urban nomad who hopes to find a home in one of the most isolated areas of the United States, peculiarly defined by its racial history and regional mores. By conflating the two stories, My Little Town challenges the reader as much as the author, raising serious questions about our ability as Americans to transcend our regional identities and cultural complexities.
D. B. Tipmore, a writer of urbane wit, moved to a small town in rural Alabama in the hope of making a home. This brilliant book, coming ten years later, is the result of his experiences there. Composed of ten revelatory, sad, funny, and incisive chapters, My Little Town
introduces the reader to special insights Tipmore has gained about the town, the region, and himself. What results is the perfect book, compassionately observed, for those who want to head to the South — or away from it.
—Michael Tolkin, award-winning filmmaker, author of NK3 and The Player
Tipmore combines the scientific precision of the anthropologist with the insight of a humanist in this compassionate portrait of a small Alabama town. He is that rare observer open to being changed by what he sees, with a point of view touched by homesickness and graced with detachment. A wonderful guide and memoir, elegantly written.
—Rev. Dr. Andrew Walker, vicar, St. Mary's, Bourne Street, London, author of Journey into Joy: Stations of the Resurrection
When an erudite bachelor Yankee set up housekeeping in central Alabama, it provided an opportunity to observe the best and worst about its citizens. There is an ancient prayer asking that God will allow us to see ourselves as others see us. I am not sure many folks in the Black Belt had D. B. Tipmore or his book in mind when they prayed that prayer, but My Little Town
is its controversial answer.
—Wayne Flynt, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Auburn University History Department
My Little Town
is a remarkable book, profound and wise in its observations about life in the rural Deep South and elegantly written.
—Larry Watson, author of Let Him Go and other works of fiction
D. B. Tipmore’s My Little Town
captures the paradoxes of small-town Southern life. From their variants of chicken salad, to the inerrant study of the Protestant Bible, to the equal degrees of charm, rivalry, racial animosity, and willingness to help out at a moment’s notice, the citizens of Tipmore’s 'Lovelady' show us uncomfortable truths about how we live in such towns, and why some of us leave. A bittersweet portrait.
—Terry Barr, author of Secrets I’m Dying to Tell You, Don’t Date Baptists and Other Warnings from My Alabama Mother, and other books
My Little Town
is the tour de force of a writer whose unflinching honesty reveals the hidden layers and painful divisions within the American soul. In Tipmore's hands, Lovelady, Alabama, becomes a canvas to explore our common search for meaning and yearning for home. The book is profound, witty, and haunting.
—Lars Brownworth, historian, author of Julius Caesar: The Roman Colossus
You can add My Little Town
to that important list of books about the South that includes W. J. Cash's classic The Mind of the South
. But where Cash portrays the region in broad generalities, D. B. Tipmore gets to the intimate heart of things by focusing his keen eye on a town and way of life that signify so many of today's small towns and the rural South, where old struggles with new—and old often wins. He's a talented storyteller with an honest, unflinching eye.
—Robert Inman, author of Home Fires Burning and The Governor's Lady
D. B. Tipmore’s portrait of the town he calls Lovelady, Alabama, reflects on a decade in residence — a decade in which he nursed and buried his mother, participated in the requisite social and religious institutions, and became fully enmeshed in its alluring web of gossip, kindnesses, home tours, and Harmonie Club dinners. And yet he retains the detachment of the career journalist he is, a critical distance that allows incisive analysis of the persistence of mores and institutions all but obsolete in other places. From this vantage point, he examines the legacies of segregation turned 'inter-cultural avoidance' that scuttle any hope of improving the collective lives of the town’s residents. Peppered with moments of humor and humanity, this book excavates some of our culture's deepest ironies.
—Lyn C. Macgregor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of Habits of the Heartland: Small-Town Life in Modern America
D. B. Tipmore’s My Little Town
reminds me how those of us who grew up in small Southern communities continue to be shaped by their unique alchemy of race, place, religion, and custom. But as these rural towns begin to fade, they must be reimagined, or else risk losing the ability to make newcomers feel like they belong. This small book offers a powerful statement about the importance of place, even as it urges reconsideration of the things that any one particular place holds most dear.
—Ralph Eubanks, author of A Place Like Mississippi
D. B. Tipmore is not a damned Yankee; he is a writer's writer. My Little Town
is a wildly fresh perspective on the South.
—Sean Dietrich, host of the Sean of the South podcast and author of Stars of Alabama and Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
This compact rumination by an insider who feels like a perpetual outsider provides an insightful look at small-town life in the American South. At once intellectual and personal, this memoir intricately examines the relationship between subject and self and gives the reader a window into life in a place that stubbornly holds onto its old thinking and ways.
—Leah Franqui, author of Mother Land and America for Beginners
D. B. Tipmore's My Little Town
reflects truths about only one of multiple 'Souths,' the rural white South, but the mere existence of this book offers some hope toward a dream once thought impossible: that we might one day—all of us—come to care about each other.
—Clyde Edgerton, author of Walking Across Egypt
D. B. Tipmore distills the essence of contemporary Southern culture into sharp, succinct vignettes in a poignant homage to a way of life that is slowly disappearing.
Set in a sleepy Southern community, My Little Town
is the memoir of an outsider whose observations are fair and measured, infused with both empathy and poetry.
My Little Town
exposes the deep veins of resentment that drive so many Americans to cling to symbols of a lost past. Despite its dark themes, this is a gentle book; cosmopolitan Northerner D. B. Tipmore applies a measured mix of empathy and discernment to the tales of his adopted town.
—The Journal Inquirer