Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming: A Memoir

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NewSouth Books, Nov 1, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 132 pages
Nationally syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, winner of the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest reporting, turns her sharp eye on herself in this frank, exhilarating, wise, poignant, and brave memoir. Her territory ranges from childhood memories of ritual pre-interstate trips in the family station wagon to visit foot-washing Baptist relatives to young-girl fixations on the Barbie dolls of the title, from the simultaneous exuberance and proto-feminist doubts of young marriage to the aches of loves lost through divorce and death. Her memorable journalism career, which began on her college newspaper and rural weeklies and moved on to prestigious big-city dailies, was punctuated by her distinctive writing voice and an unerring knack for revealing her much-loved South through uncommon stories about its common people. This is a big-hearted book that will leave no reader unaffected.
 

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Contents

Acknowledgments
9
Rapture on Hold
13
Ted and the FootWashing Baptists
19
The Year the World Lusted for Barbie
29
Building the Cross Fence
36
Armed and Dangerous
44
Born Again
49
Cold Chapel Cold Feet
54
Why Dont You Like Me?
107
The Poppy Field
119
Grizzard Is Dead and I Dont Feel So Good Myself
124
Finding Neverland
131
Poor Mans Provence
137
Home to the Hollow
148
Madeleine
156
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
167

Christmas Sunset
61
Frozen Toilets Fledgling Talent
70
Arlo and Arlo
77
Fishtrap Hollow
93
Refrigerator Babies
100
Petit Papa Noel
174
Im So Lonesome I Could Cry
181
Iron Eyes Cody and Calvinism
186
The Rest of My Life
190
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About the author (2010)

Rheta Grimsley Johnson has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist. She writes about ordinary but fascinating people, mining for universal meaning in individual stories. In past reporting for United Press International, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a number of other regional newspapers, Johnson has won national awards. They include the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for human interest reporting (1983), the Headliner Award for commentary (1985), the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for commentary (1982). In 1986 she was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. In 1991 Johnson was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Syndicated today by King Features of New York, Johnson’s column appears in about 50 papers nationwide. She is the author of several books, including America’s Faces (1987) and Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz (1989). In 2000 she wrote the text for a book of photographs entitled Georgia. A native of Colquitt, Ga., Johnson grew up in Montgomery, Ala., studied journalism at Auburn University and has lived and worked in the South all of her career. In December 2010, Johnson married retired Auburn University history professor Hines Hall.

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