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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 15, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

SOUTH OF HAUNTED DREAMS: A Ride Through Slavery's Old Back Yard by Eddy L. Harris (Simon & Schuster: $19; 255 pp.). Eddy Harris, author of "Mississippi Solo," began riding his motorcycle through the South "half hoping to hurt someone," to make some white cracker pay for the sin of slavery. Harris had trouble maintaining his anger, however, for although it may be justified by history--Harris quotes the monster telling Dr. Frankenstein, "I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?"--the writer is at worst tolerated, and more frequently welcomed, wherever he goes. There is, to be sure, the local "Coon Hunters' Club" in Kentucky and the Confederate battle flag in many places, but in the end the South feels like home to Harris--even more than Africa, about which he wrote in his most recent book, "Native Stranger." Harris literally finds his roots in Goochland, Va., where he looks up the 1832 deed of manumission that set his great-great-great grandfather free, yet it's the plain-spoken people of every color he encounters on his journey that ultimately stop him from demonizing the South. "I had not been willing to give the South a chance," he writes: "It's easier when you have an enemy, something to blame for the way things are, something to galvanize your disparate fears and inadequacies." Harris is not entirely optimistic about race relations by the book's close, but he does note that in Montgomery, Ala., Jefferson Davis St. and Rosa Parks Ave. intersect.

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