The Front Porch Prophet by Raymond L. Atkins

The Front Porch ProphetReviewed by Allen Hott

This may well have been the best book that I have read in some time. Not a mystery nor a thriller but a really great look at A. J. Longstreet’s life living in a small North Georgia town. Parts of the book and descriptions are so funny that they will make you laugh even as you sit alone reading it. Other parts can bring back memories of our own childhood and journey into adulthood even though most likely it was not in North Georgia. And there are also some parts that can make even a grown man want to cry as you read how life affects each of us and somehow we learn to accept it even though we may not necessarily agree.

A.J. meets up with Eugene Purdue at a very early age. Just so happens that A.J. is getting his butt kicked by a local bully when Eugene jumps into the fight and basically saves A.J. from a humiliating whipping. From that day forward these two mountain boys become friends for life. Though they have some skirmishes between themselves they always seem to be able to put them to the side and continue as buddies.

Amongst the many escapades that they are involved in involves stealing or rather borrowing a school bus as a joke. When the town’s sheriff becomes deeply involved in finding the bus, the boys decide to hide the bus on top of the mountain where Eugene lives. Very few folk go up on the mountain as it is owned by Eugene’s family and kept pretty much off limits to all except invitees.

Later they both marry local girls in the normal way things go and A.J.’s works out well. But Eugene never loses his wild mountaineer type ways and finally his wife takes their sons and divorces Eugene. Eugene is never the same and his type of living begins to push A.J. away until a major episode completely devastates their long friendship.

Still life goes on with all of the normal small town incidents until one day A.J. meets up with Diane, Eugene’s ex-wife. She is pretty worked up and says that she had just been called to go up on the mountain to visit Eugene. She says, among other things, that Eugene really wants to see A.J. and mend fences.

And this is where The Front Porch Prophet really goes into action. There are many, many events in the storyline as A.J. and Eugene buddy up again. In many ways they are reliving the earlier times but it is told with much humor and even sadness as the two of them continue their lives but now again as friends.

Atkins has used about every Southern lifestyle anecdote in telling his story including things like how children are named after literary characters from the past, or how southerners always seem to have a weapon around to test their skills and marksmanship, and especially how they love to drink.

Really well written and told as only a true Southern mountain man from North Georgia could tell it. Funny, sad, poetic, and extremely readable. Great book!

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

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