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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hated Authors, Beloved Books – Forrest Carter

This week it’s about controversial authors and their books.

This week's theme came to me after I read the book, Gone to Texas by Forrest Carter. For those who don't know the book, the film adaptation might be more familiar—The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood.

Intrigued by the movie I bought the eBook and was enthralled by the writing...and surprised when I learned that Carter also wrote The Education of Little Tree, a wonderful book that I read first as the condensed version in Readers Digest.

Again, fantastic writing kept me in the scene and loving it.

But...I was confused. Some of the reviews of the books mentioned the author’s past, a despicable character. It seems—according to news accounts and magazine articles—Mr. Carter lived a double life as a member of the KKK and a speechwriter for Democratic Governor George Wallace.


The fact checkers say his real name was Asa Carter and advocated racial separation. According to them, he was an anti-Semite.

I’m not sure what the truth is about the author. All I know is what I read in his books. Example:

  • Carter portrayed one of his characters, a Jewish man, as wronged by the town folk. But loved and enjoyed by the protagonist and his family.
  • He gave a black character very sympathetic treatment as well without a hint of racism.
  • There wasn’t a bit of antisemitism, racism, or Ku Klux Klan ideals in his books.

Summary: Should I believe the news articles detailing his past sins? Or judge him by his books and characters?

I gotta go with the books and hope I’m right.

* * * *

Huntress aka CD Coffelt, author of The Magic Withheld series.


Robert Bennett said...

Good policy. Perhaps the man realized his wrong doings and sought to escape them? Our writings are a window into our soul so it seems highly likely that, at the very least, his opinions are somewhere near where his writings are.

Ellie Garratt said...

That's a tough one. I would try to judge the author by his books and hope the internet was wrong.

Liz A. said...

Interesting. In this case I'd go with the books. I had not heard about him.

Huntress said...

@ Ellie, Liz, and Robert - The sentiment you expressed is mine as well. I sure hope he had a radical change of heart in his later years.