by James Everett Kibler
Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Co.;
221 pp., $22.00
A first-rate scholar is as rare as, or rarer than, a first-rate creative writer. Believe me, having hung out with professors for 45 years, I know whereof I speak. When a first-rate scholar is also a creative artist of merit, you have a national treasure, a real live example of what has become scarcer and scarcer—a man of letters.
James Kibler long ago showed his mettle as a literary scholar. With his novel Memory’s Keep, he has five creative works to his credit: two novels, a book of stories, a book of poetry—Poems From Scorched Earth—and a beautiful historical memoir, Our Fathers’ Fields. In choosing his literary territory, Kibler has followed Sherwood Anderson’s providential advice to Faulkner: Concentrate on your own little postage stamp of land. Kibler’s is in Upcountry South Carolina (Upcountry being a tradition-laden three-centuries-old term which now, unfortunately, our foreign-owned local media have replaced with the Upstate.)
Daringly, in Memory’s Keep, the author has taken up the human dimension of a major but little-known demographic fact of our time—the return of numerous black Americans, including...