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Bill Goodman

This Month's Theme:
Celebrating Kentucky Traditions

This month we offer recipes, memoirs, and short stories that celebrate our heritage. Books for December

What My Heart Wants to Tell
by Verna Mae Slone

Sunday, Dec. 14 at 6:30/5:30 am CT and 11:30/10:30 pm on KET2

IVerna Mae Slone, the youngest of Isom and Sarah Slone's 12 children, was born on October 9, 1914. Within a few weeks, Verna Mae's mother had died, leaving "Kitteneye" Slone to raise the little girl on his own. What My Heart Wants to Tell, first published in 1979, is the author's tribute to her father and to the "brave and sturdy people" of Eastern Kentucky.

Slone's memoir is a treasure trove of information about the old customs and traditions of Appalachia. In simple, direct language, she recounts both the hardships and pleasures of rural life at the turn of the 20th century, dispelling stereotypes—"half-truths," she calls them—and conjuring up vivid images of a long-ago time and culture.

Near the beginning of the book, Slone compares her "scribblings" to crazy quilts, "without any form or unity." But the memoir is unified—by Slone's clear and honest voice, by her careful attention to the details of everyday life, and by her affection for her father and for the culture of her youth. Reading What My Heart Wants to Tell is like the meandering walk along a country road described near the book's end. At every turn, we are charmed or surprised by some new and lively image, and our friend on this journey is Verna Mae herself.

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