Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is the author of The Moneychanger Newsletter and has recently released his first in a series of three; At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Volume One: Nothing That Eats. Sanders recounts the move he and his wife, children and grandchildren make as they go from city-dwellers to country homesteaders, recounting good eats, dawgs, re-enactments, family, faith and farming. This is, ultimately, the story of a family that went back to the land, lived to tell about it and now want to tell you about it with humor, panache and the location and phone numbers of good restaurants along the way.
The book contains four sections: Leaving Memphis Five Miles at a Time, Living in the Country Changes You, Learning Curve, and A Real Farm, with each section containing several "chapters." The book is 378 pages long with a lovely, glossy, 4 color cover. Also included are 25 photographs and maps, further creating the feeling that you are being invited in to a rousing good family reunion with Sanders and his extensive array of relatives and furry friends.
This book is comprised of a series of newsletters published by Sanders over the course of a several years. He talks about people and places that folks that readers of his newsletter might be familiar with, but readers of the book, because the scope is broader, might not be. This lends itself to the homey, conversational style of the book. Think James Herriot, Southern-style, recounting a series of real life vignettes.
Sanders weaves his faith throughout, "John Calvin said, 'Ignorance of the Providence of God is the cause of all impatience.' as he relates his challenges with clover growing in a chapter titled "Agrarian Worries." Speaking of failures and near misses with faith in something bigger than the immediate is really a hallmark of what this book is about. Sprinkled throughout you'll find scripture, quotes and poems. If you are a collector of good words, you'll appreciate the fact that Sanders is too.
Another major theme is Sanders politics; including Y2K preparation, money and, of course, the Civil War. I found the War conversations off-putting as he hammered the "Northern Aggression" one too many times for my taste, insisting that the Civil War had nothing to do with anything but economics. A bit beyond simplistic and I would have been fine letting it go if it wasn't re-played. I'm sure this had to do with Sanders involvement in historical re-enactments (which I am all for and love, including his descriptions of his family involvement in them) but to completely ignore the Emancipation Proclamation and the entire issue of slavery (which was partly, but not solely, an economic issue) colored my view of this book.
This book doesn't fit neatly into a genre per se; it's not quite memoir, not quite biography, not quite how to, not quite devotional. Basically, what you'll find here is Sanders down home, corn-spun wisdom. I'll be sending a copy of this to my Gram for Christmas, who was born on a homested in the south and loves the thought of country farm life surrounded by family and critters. If you do too, add this to your list of "to be read."
The cost for the book is $22.95 for the paperback.