Cover image for My grandfather's finger
My grandfather's finger
Swift, Edward, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : University of Georgia Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 245 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3569.W483 Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Not long ago the Big Thicket of East Texas was still one of those places singular in its southernness, like the Mississippi Delta or the Carolina Low Country. Now its old-timers and their ways are nearly gone.

They will not be forgotten, though, for in My Grandfather's Finger Edward Swift recalls a Big Thicket populated by family and friends as gloriously vibrant and enigmatic as the land itself. From Camp Ruby to nearby Woodville and all the swamps, bayous, and forests in between, Swift shows us a place and time so fecund with humor, tragedy, and good talk that, in growing up there, he had no choice but to become a novelist.

We meet, among many others, Mother, a widowed war bride who would spring-clean the inside of her house with a garden hose, and Aunt Coleta, childlike and always surrounded by an entourage of kids half enchanted by her and half scared witless. Then there are Uncle Frank, who, with self-fulfilling flair, would have drawn a pistol at the merest suggestion that his family was dysfunctional, and, of course, Grandfather, who lost his finger to a machete and his mind to cough medicine.

A mystical world of carnivals, talking fiddles, houses on wheels, atomic bombs, and total-immersion baptisms, Edward Swift's Big Thicket was also a world in which he was loved unconditionally-and that alone makes it worth getting to know.

Author Notes

Edward Swift is a novelist and visual artist who lives in New York. He is the author of five books, including Mother of Pearl and Splendora , the latter of which has been performed on the stage and adapted for film. Lynn Lennon, whose work has been widely exhibited, lives in Dallas. Her books include Dogmatically Speaking and Categorically Speaking .

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Novelist (of Mother of Pearl and Splendora) and visual artist Swift details his post^-World War II childhood in this amusing and somewhat poignant memoir. Born and raised in the Big Thicket, an isolated rural hamlet in East Texas, Swift recalls the joys and curiosities of his simple childhood, using brief anecdotes and plenty of photographs of his relations and many of the town's other colorful characters. From neighbors dwelling in bomb shelters to an island inhabited by albinos, and from atomic bombs to carnivals and amputated fingers kept in jars, Swift's portrayal of his childhood is not the usual nostalgic treatment. Instead, there is a darkness lurking about the edges of this town and about the edges of these stories, which lends strength to the author's memories and contributes to the success of this collection. Texas libraries may be especially interested in the work of this native son. --Kathleen Hughes