Mid-Lands: A Family Album by Robert DavisMid-Lands: A Family Album by Robert Davis

Mid-Lands: A Family Album

byRobert Davis

Paperback | June 1, 2010

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Mapping out a cosmos bounded by heaven, hell, Kansas City, and St. Louis, Robert Murray Davis looks back on his life in central Missouri in the 1940s and 1950s. As he recalls his youth and early adulthood in the town of Boonville, Davis wryly contemplates some of the sharp dichotomies by which his world was ordered: grown-ups and kids, blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, boys and girls, town and country, work and play, art and life.

Davis sees now that as he grew up in white, postwar mid-America, he seldom pondered the limitations that its "either/or" perspective on life imposed. Sometimes, however, intimations about the world's complexity were too strong for him to ignore. The presence of an occasional black teammate in baseball jarred him into the realization that he knew nothing about some segments of Boonville society. His high school principal's lenient response to a teacher's demand for Davis's expulsion bared a weakness in the united front of adult authority over children. The boldness of the first girl in his class to wear makeup repelled and attracted him-and confused him about sex even more than did his Catholic education.

Many of Davis's recollections involve his family and read like captions to snapshots in a family album. However different they were from each other, the two family branches were unified by their mutual regard for uniqueness of character (Davis says his mother felt that one's real duty was not to be right but to be interesting). Anything said or done by a family member had story potential, and Davis learned at an early age that transgressions were judged less harshly if their retelling enhanced an already varied and idiosyncratic family saga.

Amid droll profiles of relatives like his guntoting, nearsighted grandfather, Davis also passes along such gems of practical information as the best way to kill a chicken and how to judge character by the car a person drives. Combining memoir with social history and inspired storytelling, Mid-Lands is a reflective and entertaining evocation of regional American life.

After forty-five years of university teaching, including thirty-three of them at the University of Oklahoma, Robert Murray Davis retired to Arizona to do free-lance writing, consulting, and lecturing, the last mostly in Europe. His books include Mid-Life Mojo, Evelyn Waugh: Apprentice, and Playing Cowboys.
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Title:Mid-Lands: A Family AlbumFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8 × 5 × 12 inPublished:June 1, 2010Publisher:University Of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820336467

ISBN - 13:9780820336466

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Editorial Reviews

Read this book to discover the lost continent of childhood.

- Kansas City Star