Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

A Vessel for the Story

Alice Faye Duncan’s books chronicle Black perseverance, past and present

Two new nonfiction books for children by Memphis writer Alice Faye Duncan illuminate “what it means to be free.” Duncan will lead a free virtual workshop for aspiring picture book creators on January 17.

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Little Lost Girl

I hadn’t yet learned what being lost feels like

Sometimes during my wanderings, I would hear an announcement over the public address system for a child who had been lost. The microphone would crackle, then I’d hear “We have a little lost girl,” followed by her name and a description. The announcements seemed plaintive, urgent, important.

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A Tennessee Christmas

My father wasn’t about to buy a tree

Cutting one’s own Christmas tree certainly does evoke images of a happy family pulling a sleigh through snowy landscapes in the Appalachian Mountains. But my family’s Christmas tree acquisition process wasn’t quite what Norman Rockwell had in mind.

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Humming

One sound undulated constantly through my father’s life

His tone was edgy. He limped past me gruffly. My mother flashed me the look which meant to shut up about it. Other than to occasionally refer to himself as crippled, my father almost never talked about the complications of his disability.

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Hope Smiles

A holiday experiment yields a lesson in kindness

In return for sore feet, knuckles slammed in register drawers, and more of that sort of amusement, I had the privilege of watching, over and over again, one of the most powerful human emotions: generosity, and the genuine desire to give to others, not as a perfunctory requirement, but as an expression of love.

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The Games of Life

Fight like hell and then forgive, but don’t forget

Everyone in my family played something. Dad loved word games, dice games, and pool. Mom was a fierce competitor at Monopoly, rummy, and double solitaire, during which, in her motherly way, she would trash talk her offspring to gain psychological advantage.

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