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Southern tales part of Rheta Johnson’s charm

Columnist will be at Decatur Library Sept. 16

Nationally syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, winner of the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest reporting, turns her sharp eye on herself in a frank, exhilarating, wise, poignant, and brave memoir. Her territory ranges from childhood memories of ritual pre-interstate trips in the family station wagon to visit foot-washing Baptist relatives to young-girl fixations on the Barbie dolls of the title, from the simultaneous exuberance and proto-feminist doubts of young marriage to the aches of loves lost through divorce and death.  On Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m., Johnson will share her experiences in a program at Decatur Public Library.  Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, this final installment of the Scintillating Summer Series program is free and open to the public.
Johnson’s memorable journalism career, which began on her college newspaper and rural
weeklies and moved on to prestigious big-city dailies, was punctuated by her distinctive writing voice and an unerring knack for revealing her much-loved South through uncommon stories about its common people.
In that same warm and down-to-earth voice, Johnson utilizes Barbie as a basis for deeper examination-through her own life experiences-of “our inner Barbies,” her identity as a newspaper woman in a changing world, and, more specifically, how the South shapes its daughters.  This is a big-hearted book that will leave no reader unaffected, and it should have legs-longer even, than Barbie’s own.
Johnson has covered the South for over three decades as a newspaper reporter and columnist. Her reporting has won numerous awards, and in 1991 she was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. In 1986 Johnson was inducted into the Scripps Howard Newspapers Editorial Hall of Fame. Syndicated today by King Features, Johnson’s column appears in about 50 papers nationwide.
For more information, call the Decatur Public Library at 353-2993, ext. 100.