LAURINBURG — Author J.A. Bolton will be holding a reading and book singing at Thomas H. Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 22. The book, “Just Passing Time” is being released by the St. Andrews University Press.
Bolton was born in Richmond County in 1948 and as a small child his father would take him to hear stories told by regulars at two country stores — one at each end of the same rural bridge.
In the book, Bolton carries on the style of that oral tradition — of tales and tall tales. The book opens with a story titled, ‘Ol’ Shag’ — which focuses bartering, in this case to acquire a pair of coon-dogs — one sleek, the other shaggy, unpromising, unwanted, a mutt who turns out to be a gifted partner in the chase — not only of raccoon but also of rabbits, a one in a thousand “combination dog.”
The introductory story focuses on a reversal of expectations and the teller’s attitude regarding the reversal make the tale.
If one scales the book’s contents from tale to taller to tallest, surely ‘Mabel, the Little Tractor that Could’ ranks among the tallest. The story concerns Bolton’s stopping at an estate sale on a run-down farm far back in the Uwharrie Mountains.
In a half-collapsed shed he sees a small, very old tractor, wants it and buys it, along with a metal box. Once he returns home, he tries to fix it up but the motor turns over but won’t fire.
Bolton eventually breaks the lock of the metal box and inside is a jug marked XXX. He doesn’t know if it’s poison or moonshine? He gives a sniff test and pours the ‘shine in. Later, after pulling out a stuck D-28 bulldozer and much in demand roundabouts, Mabel gets her name. Bolton ends with her greatest feat — hooked to a neighbor’s flooded creek, she pulls and pulls, until there isn’t a bend left.
“While we are laughing we are sharing a sense of humor that is older than we are. The sort of passing time we hear in Bolton’s deft, canny collection is itself a bridge connecting now and then,” said Thomas Heffernan, author of Working Voices.
Bolton and his wife Azalea — a storyteller in her own right — have an alternating weekly column that runs in the Daily Journal and the Anson Record.
“Just Passing Time” will be available for $5.99 on Amazon.com as an E-book as well as $9.99 for a physical copy.