I’ve Known Rivers
I’VE KNOWN RIVERS: LIVES OF LOSS AND LIBERATION is based on long tape-recorded interviews, conducted over extended periods, with six subjects, all of them middle- to upper-middle- class African Americans in their middle years. That the story told by the book as a whole is the story of its author as well as of her subjects becomes clear as she reminds us that the description of her subjects fits her as well.
These subjects certainly constitute a sufficiently interesting group in themselves, and the author’s method of interviewing over an extended period means that readers observe the six storytellers living their lives as well as narrating them. They are also men and women of dedication and accomplishment. Katie Cannon, daughter of North Carolina sharecroppers, is an ordained Presbyterian and a tenured professor of theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Toni Schiesler, a former Roman Catholic nun, now married, aspires to the priesthood in the Episcopal church. Cheryle Wells, owner of newspapers, radio stations, and the largest funeral home in the country, devotes herself to community activities. Charles Ogletree, now a member of the Harvard Law faculty, has enjoyed a remarkable record of success as criminal defense lawyer—in ten years as a public defender in Washington, D. C., he never lost a case. Tony Earls, also at Harvard, applies his scientific intelligence to an attempt to document the major sources of crime and...
(The entire section is 411 words.)