Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red Brick Black Mountain White Clay by Christopher Benfey

I have been approached a few times about reviewing a product by companies who read or troll blogs. I have qualms about doing this on my blog since I find product placement to be a bit scary in that when ever you are out researching a product on the web the product will start showing up when you go to read someone’s blog who allows ad placement or on your sidebar if you are on facebook.
I am not fond of the ads on blogs, but there are times, well, many times that I just ignore them and read around them. I don’t want to insult anyone on the subject, but I do prefer reading ad free blogs.

Last winter I was asked if I would read and review a book. After giving this some thought I said yes. I think I said yes for the reasons that the book is about history and clay.
I find both interesting but more interestingly for me is it does relate to places that I know and something I have some understanding about.

The book, Red Brick Black Mountain White Clay by Christopher Benfey,  arrived just after Mark’s mother past away and on the day we were loading the kiln to fire. I really set the book aside in hopes that I could read through it very quickly.
Then the kiln was unloaded, we packed for a week off and things have a way of getting away from you.
I picked up the book last week and started the journey of the read.
The first thing that struck me was that the written word in this book does not allow one to just skim through it. I really enjoyed how well written the pages are and felt at times that I was reading poetry rather than a family history.
There are passages in the book that made me want to underline them and go back and read them more than one time.
 I really enjoyed the history of his early life as he wound back and forth from Indiana to the family in North Carolina. His memories were so close to many I had as a child growing up in Virginia. I too traveled back to the red clay of the Piedmont of North Carolina. I too have a history shared with family and clay.
The place we parted was when I read his account of Jugtown.
I soon knew that his history about the area of Seagrove and Jugtown is different from mine.
I was more closely connected to the Cole and Auman families and their history was what I grew up on.
I loved reading about the area through his eyes, but was disappointed that he did not travel outside of the Jugtown history to the working potters of that day. There are some folks that would have you believe that the whole area was saved by the Busbees' from Raleigh, but in my history, learned from listening to Dorothy Auman, the area had many thriving pottery shops at the time the Busbees' arrived in the area.  I certainly don’t discount their part in the history of the Seagrove area but one should do more research when talking about the pottery shops that surrounded the area of that time.
I know that history is in the telling; in that who ever is telling it will be telling their history, in that their history might not include all the history of an area. I also understand  that could possible be a whole book in its own right. He does make reference to a book written by Charles G  Zugg III called , “Turners and Burners”, the Folk Potters of North Carolina. This is a book I own and have referenced many times and does include the many families and generations of potters of the Seagrove area.

To move back to the book, I am enjoying reading this book and find that Christopher Benfey spins a good yarn in his recount and his reflections of family and clay.
I plan to finish reading this book and can recommend that you pick up a copy.


Lori Buff said...

We don't have a TV (by choice) so I'm always on the hunt for a good book to read. Thanks for the recommendation.

Michèle Hastings said...

I just might have to read this one... can it be ordered online?

gz said...

sounds a good read- you'll have to write your own too, from the sound of it

Judy Shreve said...

Does sound like an interesting book - and I agree - you should be writing your own NC potter's book. I think you might just have some tales to tell!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm glad that you agreed to read and review this one - it sounds like it is turning out to be a very good fit for you.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I hope you will write your own as well...I'll definitely read it :) I assumed Benfey stuck mostly with Jugtown bc it's the area that most connected with his life. I didn't feel that he meant this book to be a comprehensive history of any of the artforms, just the ones that played into his family history. There's so much more to learn, isn't there?? :)

cookingwithgas said...

Thanks for your comments- there really is so much more to this area and much more to learn.