Jerilyn’s mother barely manages a bloodless kiss on her cheek as she goes off to Chapel Hill to start college and she hopes, an adventure or two that her family wouldn’t approve of. Jerilyn grudgingly performs the traditional rites of passage for a privileged southern teen, coming out as a debutante and pledging sororities with a determined resignation that her sister, Annie rails against. Annie moves confidently against the tide of southern convention asserting her sexuality at school and later becoming a subversive force for equal housing as a real estate agent in Charlotte. “I fully expect you to be married upon a mule in a national park, presided over by a hippie shaman in a cloud of incense smoke,” her mother, Jerene, says.
In Barnhardt’s thoroughly entertaining fashion, you will learn that the Johnstons trace their lineage all the way back to confederate glory and defeat. The Johnston men including Jerene’s husband, Duke and brother Gaston, a writer, more than hold their own when the whole family is together for Christmas wrangling over the direction of the New South and reproductive rights at the celebration table. You will not be bored. You will learn how racism is a convenient vehicle for classism or you may just decide to watch the fur fly. Wilton Barnhardt who undoubtably delights his students at N.C. State, will be speaking at the East Regional Library, Wednesday, November 5 at 7 p.m.