By Wyatt Cooper
My father [the book's author] died when I was 10, and in a sense this book became a letter to me from him. It's about the family he had as a child in Mississippi and also about our own—my mother, my brother, and me. The last sentence of it is important to me; we actually put it on his tombstone: "We must go rejoicing in the blessings of this world, chief of which is the mystery, the magic, the majesty, and the miracle that is life." One of the horrible things about the death of a parent when you're a child is that there comes a time when you can't remember what he looked or smelled like or the way he talked or walked. I feel lucky to have a book that is all those things.