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Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense and Other Endangered Species

1 rating: 3.0
2007 non-fiction book by Philip Gulley

Beloved American storyteller Philip Gulley evokes a time when life revolved around the front porch, where friends gathered, stories were told, and small moments took on large meaning. In today's hurry-up world, Gulley's observations are frank and funny, … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Nonfiction
Author: Philip Gulley
Genre: Religion and Spirituality
Publisher: HarperOne
Date Published: May 22, 2007
1 review about Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense...

Pearls of wisdom abound in this neat little book.

  • Dec 1, 2008
In this case the sub-title seems to say it all.  "Porch Talk" features "Stories of Decency, Common Sense and Other Endangered Species".  Author Philip Gulley's 14th book is a compilation of some 30 short essays on topics ranging from the demise of the local hardware store to the simple pleasures of a summer night spent with family and friends on the front porch.  Gulley makes a compelling argument that it was in just such settings that so much wisdom was passed from generation to generation in years gone by.   And he laments the fact that many of these comfortable and familiar settings are simply not available to most folks anymore.  It really is a shame.

In an essay simply entitled "Camping" Gulley reminisces about camping overnight in nearby woods with a couple of his closest friends at the age of 12 or 13.  Such simple pleasures and such wonderful memories!  He describes those nights as "the source of my most pleasant childhood memories."  In another essay he discusses "The Tornado" that struck his hometown back on Good Friday in 1948.   Seems folks still talk about it today and if you look real closely around town you can still see evidence of that frightening day so long ago.  But for me the most interesting essay is one Gulley calls "The Slow Life".   Readers are introduced to Leon, owner of the local Dairy Queen.  Leon is a real anomaly these days.  While the lives of most folks in town resemble those of hamsters on a Habitrail,  Leon has made the conscious decision to live his life at a much slower pace.   As a result, Leon has time for those who seek his counsel and friendship.  In this essay Gulley quotes a passage from a book called "In Praise of Slowness" by Carl Honore.  Honore compares the fast-life vs. the slow-life.  He observes: "Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity over quality."  In contrast, "Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over quantity."  Now you might disagree with this point of view but there sure is an awful lot to ponder in that quotation.  And in "My Conflicted Life" Gulley worries about those individuals who are so cock-sure that they are right that they refuse to change their minds about an issue no matter what the evidence might indicate.  Unfortunately, these seem to be the types of people who dominate the scene in Washington D.C. these days.
Now since there are some 30 of these essays in "Porch Talk" you will more than likely find yourself at odds with the authors point of view on at least a few of them.  I certainly did.  But that is not the point.  Many of the topics presented in "Porch Talk" are subjects that really do lend themselves to debate by family members, neighbors and friends.  In the course of such discussions you just might change your mind about a few things and be instrumental in helping someone else to look at a given issue just a little bit differently.   Philip Gulley longs for a return to a lifestyle that sees the value in such discussions.  There is a lot to be said for "chewing the fat" with your family, friends and neighbors.  I really did not get the feeling that Philip Gulley was interested in telling people how to live their lives.  In fact, Gulley pokes funs at his own foibles, failings and inconsistencies throughout the book.  Rather, I suspect he is trying to encourage each one of us to evaluate how we live our own lives.  At the end of the day I found "Porch Talk: Stories of Decency, Common Sense and Other Endangered Species" to be a pretty thought provoking book.  Any one of the essays would provide the basis for a great discussion around the family dinner table.  Great summer reading and a pretty good bathroom book as well.   Recommended!
Porch 1 Pearls of wisdom abound in this neat little book. Pearls of wisdom abound in this neat little book. Pearls of wisdom abound in this neat little book.

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August 29, 2009
Hi, I'm glad you posted this again....was looking to buy this book, but couldn't remember the title.
April 25, 2009
Hi......Porch Talk is right down my alley. I've written several essays on it myself, have lectured on this subject in the classroom and have continued my own "porch talk" to this day. Much of my wisdom was gathered from the evenings I spent on our family porch with family and friends.....that's where I really learned the dynamics of conversation and interviewing and probably why I'm in the field of communications today. I miss porch talk terribly. We barely know our neighbors now, as everyone (including myself) is busy on the computer, or whatever else we're doing inside our homes. Air-conditioning also changed porch talk. Nobody wants to sit outside in the heat anymore. This is one book I'll put on my list to read. Thanks for sharing!
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