Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Woody Guthrie, Gunsmoke and Me Book Review

Woody Guthrie, Gunsmoke and Me by Shirley Bracken

Click here for the Amazon product page.


Welcome to my hometown, Okemah, Oklahoma. It's also the hometown of folksinger Woody Guthrie. Woody and I were born in two different generations and it feels like two different towns. Okemah was an oil boomtown for a short time while Woody was growing up, but good things never last. The oil stopped flowing. The dust kept blowing, and Okemah was overran with hustlers and gamblers. In Woody's own words, Okemah was "busted, disgusted and not to be trusted". The Okemah I grew up in was none of these things. Most of the town watched shows like Gunsmoke and admired Marshal Matt Dillon. Children rode their bikes all day with no fear. No one ever locked their doors.

A few things Woody and I did agree on: we both hated tornadoes, the dust and the talk about the the lynching that happened on the North Canadian bridge.

Come with me as I write stories and poems about growing up in Oklahoma. Take a walk through some of Oklahoma's territory.

Review by Brittany:

This book is a collection of short stories and poems that all deal with Okemah, Oklahoma.

My favorite thing about this book is Shirley's voice. Some writers have a really distinctive voice, while others have a more general tone. Shirley is one who has such a strong voice that the reader is pulled in from the very first page. She also knows how to pace the book, interspersing stories and poems that have related themes but keep the book moving along at an appropriate pace.

While Shirley's poems are strong, it is her short stories that really strike a nerve with me. Stories about tornadoes in Oklahoma and experiences that are in no way related to me gave me chills while reading them. She has a way of telling a story that makes it feel personal, even when it isn't. Her own childhood stories and stories about her own son give the book a lighthearted feel, even when other stories are heavy and deal with strong themes.

This book is priced well and is worth the read. It's not often that a local author has such great skill for storytelling that even one who is not from the area finds the book to be so great. I definitely recommend this book!

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