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Fear and What Follows

Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist, A Memoir

Tim Parrish
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Fear and What Follows
    Book Description:

    Fear and What Follows is a riveting, unflinching account of the author's spiral into racist violence during the latter years of desegregation in 1960s and 1970s Baton Rouge. About the memoir, author and editor Michael Griffith writes, "This might be a controversial book, in the best way--controversial because it speaks to real and intractable problems and speaks to them with rare bluntness."

    The narrative of Parrish's descent into fear and irrational behavior begins with bigotry and apocalyptic thinking in his Southern Baptist church. Living a life upon this volatile foundation of prejudice and apprehension, Parrish feels destabilized by his brother going to Vietnam, his own puberty and restlessness, serious family illness, and economic uncertainty. Then a near-fatal street fight and subsequent stalking by an older sociopath fracture what security is left, leaving him terrified and seemingly helpless.

    Parrish comes to believe that he can only be safe by allying himself with brute force. This brute influence is a vicious, charismatic racist. Under this bigot's terrible sway Parrish, turns to violence in the street and at school. He is even conflicted about whether he will help commit murder in order to avenge a friend. At seventeen he must reckon with all of this as his parents and neighbors grow increasingly afraid that they are "losing" their neighborhood to African Americans. Fear and What Follows is an unparalleled story of the complex roots of southern, urban, working-class racism and white flight, as well as a story of family, love, and the possibility of redemption.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-968-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-8)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-10)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 11-14)

    In this book, I’ve strived to be true to my memory of relevant events from my young life. I have also tried to reveal as thoroughly as possible my emotional and psychological journey and to render other characters as fully and honestly as I am able. That said, because of memoir’s inherent reliance on memory, this book is an imperfect record. To state the obvious, memoir is not reportage; memoir is a literary genre.

    My primary goal has been to accurately portray my experience during a specific time and cultural context. In order to accomplish this goal and to create...

  4. Prologue
    (pp. 15-20)

    “Get ready for your balls to pop sweat,” my brother Robert said. He grinned, his belly pressing out against a thread-worn shirt, his shorts too short on his white legs. A beige brace wrapped his injured wrist, the latest in his line of perpetual damages. In his good hand he held a tiny, antennaed TV to keep up with LSU baseball through a nebula of static.

    “I thought I told you to order me some cool,” I said.

    “Hey, I’m trying to get you ready for hell.”

    I gave him a hug, the odor of cigarettes engulfing me, and then...

  5. Book One: Fear
    (pp. 21-108)

    My daddy sailed into Nagasaki Bay a month after the bomb. He only told me once about being loaded into a truck bed and driven with other sailors through the flattened wasteland of rubble and dazed Japanese. I think it was because he didn’t like the sadness and vulnerability exposed by telling that story. What he liked to tell was the part about two Japanese men rowing up in a small boat and pointing a tiny cannon at Daddy’s destroyer. “We yelled and waved our arms at ’em to go on till they went,” he drawled, his storyteller’s smirk on...

  6. Book Two: What Follows
    (pp. 109-210)

    All of ninth grade I avoided the convenience store, and after a while a semblance of normalcy returned. In the seeming other world of school, I was elected student council president, earned the highest GPA in my class and played second-string on the basketball team. In that world, Jarreau and Lassiter sometimes shrank to only presences in my spine. Outside of school, though, I still understood that part of what had marked me was being the goody-goody overachiever. I dreaded more humiliation and looked forward to tenth grade and JV football to prove myself strong. But at the start of...

  7. Book Three: Into the Breach
    (pp. 211-245)

    I had dressed for school with a dramatic sense of purpose, going for practicality but also for a sort of uniform—blue jeans, blue-jean shirt, and blue Bob Wolf sneakers for traction on the concrete. That week, some black guys had put two bullets in the quarter panel of Dan Riche’s car and forced him to swerve down a side street to escape. Worse, the next night several guys broke into his house, supposedly thinking he was home, and beat his grandmother so badly she’d been taken to the hospital. A group of us had decided we were going to...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 246-261)

    “Yeah, I saw Dyer just last weekend,” a former classmate said to a group a few feet behind me. “He was fishing with us at my camp. Eight in the morning, and he was drinking beer and getting stoned and giving us shit. He’s just like he was in high school.” They all laughed with what I took to be admiration.

    Anxiety and doubt flooded me with the old fears of humiliation, perceived weakness, and failures in judgment. I imagined Dyer at my future reading of this book in Baton Rouge. He stood in back behind the chairs, hands in...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 262-263)