An Author Collection Book.
Caleb Pirtle is an exquisite storyteller. Not only does he see people, he listens to them. In this book, he hears other voices and he visits other towns. Sometimes he goes back in time to portray people who have become ghosts, people who lived hardscrabble lives in little mountain towns where they made their own tools and lived quietly and sagely well below the poverty level, but who possessed a dignity that is rarely seen in the big cities.
Pirtle does not just tell stories, he brings them to life with language that wrenches the heart and engages the mind and lingers like a yellowed tintype or a 3-D photograph viewed through a stereopticon, a photograph turning brown with age, but hauntingly vivid.
When you read Other Voices, you are taken on a tour backward into time, to places you have never seen, never will see. And, each moment you spend listening to those ghostly voices and walking through green mountains and musty, ramshackle towns, you are transfixed with the images of the people and their farms and desolate communities, while some grandfatherly memory squeezes your heart and reminds you of ancestors you barely knew who settled this land and who spared their descendants of the hardships they endured.
Nostalgic? Yes, but there is something deeper than these feelings, an undercurrent that runs through the book and nudges us into a deeper understanding of people, our people and people in third world countries, people whose faces are deep-lined with the furrowed tracks of toil, hands that are gnarled and calloused, fingers still coiled to the contours of plow handles, and freckled by the sun, eyes that no longer see, and bones as brittle as dry tinder. These are vivid portraits by a man with superb gifts, who writes like the photographer alert to every nuance of light and shadow, who sees the splash of sun thorough the canopies of leaves, who takes an instant and makes it immortal.
Finally, this book is a journey through the real heartland of America, through all its byways and graveled roads, through weather-beaten towns and into lives seldom noticed by the greedy molloch of civilization. I think you will come away from these travels with a new understanding of this grand and long-troubled country, with a deeper comprehension of how our nation became what it is, a beacon in a dark world of strife and war, a veritable Eden hacked out of a wilderness at great cost by simple people who respected not only the land which was their sustenance, but their neighbors and kin.
Take this journey and you will find kindness and hospitality at the end of the day, with good food and drink, a warm cozy fire and a night full of diamonds floating in a peaceful ocean.
Reviews of Other Voices, Other Towns
The yarns and events told in Other Voices, Other Towns are about the people Caleb Pirtle’s met, the towns where they lived and significant events embedded forever in their memories. Many feature irony. Sometimes the irony results in humor. Sometimes in agony. Sometimes in inspiration. Many are simply stories of how the protagonist became a protagonist or how he/she achieved fame – or infamy.
Name an emotion and Pirtle’s stories include it. The variety of characters runs the gamut as well. We meet the rich and famous – often before they became such. Some we know from what they wrote, sang, or accomplished better than by their name.
Meet the man who brought Broadway stars to Appalachia; a reclusive poet; the woman who traded Henry Ford a dime for millions; the singing history teacher; and the preacher who left town so a stripper could perform.
Learn how to rate a diner, how to save a forest, how a ghost warns of hurricanes, and how one man can make an anvil sing. Meet the “Lady of the Swamp,” “The Girl Singer,” a man who could crash any gate, and “The Man Who Made Luckenbach.” Unlike a novel that drives readers to turn pages with books from one chapter to the next, you’ll find yourself turning pages to se what eccentric character you’ll meet next.
Whether you’re from a big city, a small town, or somewhere in between, these stories will make you feel like you’re home again wherever you are.
I finished Other Voices, Other Towns. Wonderful! It is the most totally entertaining book I have read all year. I love the short vignettes and the wide variety of places and people they cover. It is the perfect bedtime reader.