Jessie's Reviews > Brother to a Dragonfly

Brother to a Dragonfly by Will D. Campbell
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's review
Jun 30, 10

bookshelves: nonfiction, spirit
Read from June 25 to 30, 2010

Honest portraiture of close brothers evolving as human beings (and as poor white Southerners) during the early years of the Civil Rights Movement; as a poor white and a Baptist, Campbell occupies a different space than that of more prominent Southern writers "of faith" (Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy), or writers faith in general -- but he's more a straight-up preacher, remarkable in his life and thought, and not as a literary light(I admit, some of the writing and use of metaphor here is belabored--but he's a golden storyteller, even when his stories are embedded in homilies).

Robert Coles says in his blurb on the back that the brothers become mythic, and that's true, and when reading I could graft my own grown-sibling story into Will & Joe's -- how we tend one another as we get older, losing each other in some ways and getting much closer in other ways, and how we negotiate our home ties -- all that's very moving in the narrative.

Like Stringfellow, Campbell balks at easy camps (liberal, conservative) and conventional definitions (Christian, decent, enemy, human); he's radically inclusive and relentlessly (unsophisticatedly) justice-minded -- eventually going so far as to pastor members of the KKK.

There's something here, I think, for those of us who inhabit an atmosphere of "liberal churchgoers" who say everything right and who maybe even carry a self-congratulatory air -- the Bush-bashers, the loathers of the Christian Right and its Fundies; this book at least bears witness to a more human way of gauging those we disagree with and of looking at what makes each of us the sort of person we are.
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