All the usual suspects are here: the often-absent alcoholic father, the distracted mother, the extended Southern family filled with aunts and uncles who are “casually racist” in a 1950s kind of way. The good news is that Malcolm Jones, longtime book critic for Newsweek, tells of his childhood in North Carolina not only in great detail, but with poignancy and gentle humor. His greatest phobia as a 10-year-old? Mayonnaise. He admits the fear made eating with his large Southern family more than problematic. “It was one of the basic food groups,” he writes.
— Craig Wilson