The stirring saga of a man’s journey to free his sister—and himself—from a tragic family history.
Tom Wingo has lost his job, and is on the verge of losing his marriage, when he learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide again. At the behest of Savannah’s psychiatrist,... read more
“But in the unconscious, I began to encounter both wild fruit and vast disciplined vineyards. I tried to censor the superfluous or the commonplace, yet I knew large truths lay hidden in the clovers, sweet grasses, and wild mint.”
“I do not know, however, when my mother and father began their long, dispiriting war against each other. Most of their skirmishes were like games of ringolevio, with the souls of their children serving as the ruined captured flags in their campaigns of attrition. Neither considered the potential damage when struggling over something as fragile and unformed as a child’s life. I still believe that they both loved us deeply, but as with many parents, their love proved to be the most lethal thing about them. They were remarkable in so many ways that the gifts they bestowed almost equaled the havoc they so thoughtlessly wreaked.”Tom Wingo
“Rape is a crime against sleep and memory.”
“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call. I grew up slowly beside the tides and marshes of Colleton; my arms were tawny and strong from working long days on the shrimp boat in the blazing South Carolina heat. Because I was a Wingo, I worked as soon as I could walk; I could pick a blue crab clean when I was five. I had killed my first deer by the age of seven, and at nine was regularly putting meat on my family’s table. I was born and raised on a Carolina sea island and I carried the sunshine of the low country, inked in dark gold, on my back and shoulders. As a boy I was happy above the channels, navigating a small boat between the sandbars with their quiet nation of oysters exposed on the brown flats at the low watermark. I knew every shrimper by name, and they knew me and sounded their horns when they passed me fishing in the river.”Tom Wingo
“This has not been an easy century to endure. I entered the scene in the middle of a world war at the fearful dawning of the atomic age. I grew up in South Carolina , a white southern male, well trained and gifted in my hatred of blacks, when the civil rights movement caught me outside and undefended along the barricades and proved me to be both wicked and wrong. But I was a thinking boy, a feeling one, sensitive to injustice, and I worked hard to change myself and to play a small, insignificant part in that movement—and soon I was feeling superabundantly proud of myself. Then I found myself marching in an all-white, all-male ROTC program in college and was spit on by peace demonstrators who were offended by my uniform. Eventually I would become on of those demonstrators, but I never spit on anyone who disagreed with me. I thought I would enter my thirties quietly, a contemplative man, a man whose philosophy was humane and unassailable, when the woman’s liberation movement bushwhacked me on the avenues and I found myself on the other side of the barricades once again. I seem to embody everything that is wrong with the twentieth century.It was my sister who forced me to confront my century and who finally freed me to face up to the reality of those days beside the river. I had lived life in the shallows for too long and she led me gently toward the deeper water where all the bones, wreckage, and black hulks awaited my hesitant inspection.The truth is this: Things happened to my family, extraordinary things. I know families who live out their entire destinies without a single thing of interest happening to them. I have always envied those families. The Wingos were a family that fate tested a thousand times and left defenseless, humiliated, and dishonored. But my family also carried some strengths into the fray, and these strengths let almost all of us survive the descent of the Furies. Unless you believe Savannah ; it is her claim that no Wingo survived.I will tell you my story.Nothing is missing.I promise you.”Tom Wingo
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