Saturday, July 25, 2015

Slave Time: Midnight a novel by Howard Potts

Imagine my surprise when author and former colleague, Howard Potts, sent me my own autographed copy of his new book,  Slave Time. This book was inspired by real life slave stories as told to interviewers involved in the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Project Administration (WPA) in the 1930s.

I just started reading and am on page 55.  Tom Smart is the interviewer in the story, raised in the North, who is sent to Georgia and Alabama to interview former slaves. Tom thought his calling was to interview congressmen, senators, and presidents.  This was the depression period; Tom had to take this job interviewing elderly black people in the Deep South. Some of these former slaves were too old to remember life back then in great detail and some were suspicious of white interviewers from the North digging into their family history. Tom, however, hit the jackpot when he was directed to Old Sam Worthington who had a great memory, was known in the area as a storyteller and was willing to share his stories. Old Sam told his own first hand experiences plus the stories that were told to him as a child. For example, he was told that he was born into slavery on a day in 1833 when there was a Great Leonid Meteor and could relay this tidbit to Tom. He told the story of an African princess and her fellow villagers who were tricked into getting on a slave ship.

It's a fascinating book. It is very descriptive and would be of interest to history aficionados.

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