By Shari Smith
Shari Smith’s roots reach into the Midwest and spread under the Mason-Dixon line into the heart of Dixie. She draws on both in this collection of heartwarming stories that originated on her blog, Gunpowder, Cowboy Boots, and Mascara. With the compassion of an old soul, irreverent wit, her North Carolina vernacular, and more than a few cuss words, Shari takes the reader into “her country,” the small town of Claremont, North Carolina and a mystical land in Alabama called Waterhole Branch. Holding nothing back, she explores the sensitive issues of a rural community, creative minds of the music and literary world, and how a small town’s tragedy affects an entire nation. Smith introduces the reader to real war heroes and a Bronze Star recipient author who told their story in graphic detail in We Were Soldiers Once and Young. She allows us to listen in on a telephone conversation with a handsome cowboy actor who had called that hard-nosed reporter to thank him for his work, and without a word of introduction, the reporter passed the phone to Shari, telling the movie star to “say hello.”Shari Smith writes with insight into the ordinary folks who meet each morning at the Claremont Caf, the Boys at the Back Table, and with equanimity of prize-winning writers, songwriters, and musicians who gather on the deck of her hundred-year-old farm house. Her world is populated with beloved dogs, horses, children, neighbors, and a bunch of crazy artist-types. All are “her people” – people you want to know.
“Sometimes when you sit still and listen, sounds sweet as sorghum and lyrical as the rhythmic tymbal song of a cicada float by on a breeze smelling of honeysuckle and magnolia. Words grown from black dirt and red clay, simmered in humid swelter are served in a classic preparation; straight up, nourishing our very souls. Such are the words of writer Shari Smith. The South – her South – is a place where the mid-century and modern collide and she invites us in, as any good Southerner would do, to this world rich in character, humor and insight. Reading Shari Smith is like drinking good bourbon. Smooth, slightly intense, full flavored and ultimately intoxicatingly satisfying.”
Robert Cross, KUTX Radio, Austin, Texas