New Southern memoir draws comparisons to William Faulkner, Willie Morris, Gene Shepherd and Mark Twain
As I Die Laughing: Snapshots of a Southern Childhood is now published and is rocketing up the Amazon book chart. You can read the introduction and the first two stories for free at:
About the Book
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, specifically the 1950s and ’60s, when kids like Noel Holston enjoyed a free-range upbringing, experiencing adventures as hair-raising and hilarious as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn’s a century earlier. The author of Life After Deaf, an acclaimed memoir about his hearing loss and recovery, Holston now reanimates a lost era with the same humor and compassion his readers have come to love.
Early Praise for As I Die Laughing
“Noel’s childhood stories combine the sweet nostalgia of Gene Shepherd, the eye for detail of William Faulkner, the twists of O. Henry, and a southern storytelling gumbo all his own. The more you read, the more you want.”
— David Bianculli, author of Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of “The Smothers Brother Comedy Hour”
“Noel Holston hails from Laurel, Mississippi. You will hail from there, too, by the time you have finished his yeasty, loving conjuration of his hometown as it lived and breathed in the early 1960s: a stitch in the fabric of a vanished America with its camellia bushes, live oaks, “Mammaws” who shell butterbeans on the front porch, Randolph Scott westerns at the Starlite Drive-In, guys who get their heads stuck inside the busted headlight of an abandoned city bus that sits rusting in the goldenrod. Holston is the Mr. Mark Twain of Laurel, and like Mr. Mark Twain, he tells the truth, mainly.”
— Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life and No One Cares About Crazy People
“For those who grew up in the South, Noel Holston’s rich collection of true tales will bring a stab of pleasure and recognition on every page.
Plus a few rueful cringes. For those who have not, this portrait of a developing artistic sensibility amid the nuances and assumptions of a deep southern community in mid-century America will be a revelation.
— Susan Lilley, author of Venus in Retrograde and inaugural Poet Laureate of Orlando, Florida
“Noel Holston was lucky to grow up in the rural South of the 1950s and ’60s, but readers are lucky, too, because he’s born storyteller whose boyhood memories are pure gold.”
— Nancy Pate, co-author of the Caroline Cousins mysteries, including Way Down Dead in Dixie
“Echoes of Willie Morris and Barry Hannah can be found in Noel Holston’s As I Die Laughing, a Southern-drenched and thoroughly entertaining collection of tales from the veteran journalist’s formative years in early 1960s South Mississippi. . . . Go back in time with Noel Holston and prepare to smile a lot.”
— Joe Lee, author of Resting Place and 40 Days
“Noel Holston recounts his childhood in the authentic voice of a Mississippi boy but with the eye of a seasoned observer. Each story is a crisp snapshot of a unique time and place yet told in a way that is universally relatable.
If you are like me, these writing gems will evoke the long-forgotten details of your own childhood, whether it was spent in Mississippi or Maine. Grab a glass of iced tea, find a place in the shade, and savor.”
— Jonathan Odell, author of The Healing and Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League
About the Author
Noel Holston, born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi (HGTV’s widely adored Home Town), is an award-winning journalist whose reviews, essays, profiles, and features have appeared in more than 100 publications, including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Toronto Star, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Medium, Salon, Like the Dew, TVWorthWatching, Newsday, and the New York Daily News. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his wife and frequent collaborator, singer-songwriter Marty Winkler, and their three rescue cats.