This is a memoir about a boy growing up in the south, surrounded by guns and hunting and the Bible, and wanting none of it — while also wanting badly to fit in.
“The South is a strange place, one that can’t be fit inside a movie, a place that dares you to simplify it, like a prime number, like a Bible story, like my father.”
Harrison Scott Key grew up getting dragged out of bed at 4am to go sit in a deer blind, when all he really wanted to do was hang out with his mom. He tells us about his family, with his father at the head: a man who “who showered us with guns and love. He did not drink, or hit our mother; his only luxury the occasional heart attack.” Meanwhile, Key (who has a fantastic sense of humor, the writing in this book is so funny) really just wanted to get some sleep and avoided all the carcasses.
I’ve read a lot of memoirs like this — men and women raised within families and communities that just do not understand them. It’s not something I necessarily relate to — my mother and I could not be more alike if we tried, which leads to its own set of struggles — but I think anyone can relate to feeling out of step with the world. And I love seeing how a person can grow up and find their own identity.
Key does find a way to relate to his father once he becomes a father as well. “His greatest lesson was the one he never said out loud, the thing a father should do, which is this: Be there. Always be there. And never stop being there, until you can’t be there anymore.”