Cripple Joe: Stories from My Daddy

Donald Davis

John F. Blair, Publisher
June 3, 2016
$19.95 hardcover
5.5 x 8.5
240 pages

Donald Davis has remarked that he “didn’t learn stories, I just absorbed them” from a family of traditional storytellers that has lived on the same western North Carolina land since 1781. Considered by many to be the father of family tales, Donald turns the focus of his newest collection on his own father, Joe.

As Donald reveals in the opening story, when he was 28, he mistakenly thought his father had died. Until learning of the mistake, he lamented that he’d been “too young and immature to know to ask for the stories that would have filled out his life.” Given a “second chance,” Donald asked those questions for the next 22 years. In this collection of 20 tender and often humorous stories—including one that tells how the elder Davis came to be called “Cripple Joe”—he shares the lessons he learned from his father.

The late Wilma Dykeman wrote in an article for the New York Times, “I could have listened all morning to Donald Davis. . . . His stories often left listeners limp with laughter at the same time they struggled with a lump in the throat.” If you are already a Donald Davis fan, here’s his latest offering. If you have yet to discover him, here’s your chance to see what all the excitement is about.


"From the photo on the the strings of hilarious and touching stories, Donald Davis takes us on a journey. This is not just his story, however, as a master storyteller, he not only tells you about himself, but also strikes familiar notes that reach into each listener’s memory bank."
New York Journal of Books
“[Davis’s] nostalgic tales are filled with the stuff of fondly remembered boyhood, from braces to broken bones, from enforced babysitting to trips to the grandparents’ farm. There’s a little drama here but lots that is sweetly good-natured and often quite funny. Davis operates in the tradition of the late Jean Shepard (A Christmas Story), though without Shepard’s occasional saltiness. Indeed, a bit more of the acerbic would have been welcome, but it also would be inconsistent with the warm-hearted tone that works well for this homespun raconteur.”
“…a well-told true story is comfort food for the soul, and Davis’s book is nourishing.”
Foreword Reviews
“…Storyteller Davis conjures humorous tales from his boyhood, packaging them in memoir form. The author’s humor often takes on a grandfatherly tone—innocent and innocuous—allowing an older generation of readers to ease into a comfortable nostalgia…” 
Kirkus Reviews
"To hear Donald Davis tell these stories is a delight. To read these stories is an adventure. You are transported not only to his childhood but to yours as well. Each story sparks memories. Donald is a master of finding the story and humor in everyday life and taking you along for a joyful ride."
—David Holt, four-time Grammy Award-winning storyteller and musician