hash. Suppose we declare that keepingnhistory’s record, including the presentnvolume, is also an arbitrarily chosennstructure; why should one then remembernwhat Michel Foucault said,nlectured, or wrote in the meaninglessnsuccession of ticked-ofF zero times?nThomas Molnar is the author of ThenPagan Temptation.nA LiterarynProctologynby Tommy W. RogersnWith All My Mightnby Erskine CaldwellnAtlanta: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.n382 pp., $19.95na M y goal from the beginning,”nstates Caldwell, “was to be anwriter of fiction that revealed … theninner spirit of men and women as theynresponded to the joys of life and reactednto the sorrows of existence.” The conclusion,nhowever, of what he sought tonachieve “with all my might” is annunwillingness to “relive my life for thenpurpose of rectifying the mistakes andnattempt to correct the errors I havenmade along the way.”nWhat Caldwell did along the waynwas to become generally recognized bynthe mid-1960’s as the best-selling authornof all time. Novelist, photojournalist,nforeign correspondent, screenwriter,nwriter of short stories and children’snbooks, Caldwell authored over 50nbooks. His efforts made him wealthynand notorious. His indictment of socioeconomicnconditions in America earnednhim the hatred of anticommunists.nWestbrook Pegler, on the other hand,ncredited Caldwell with earning 22 citationsnby the House Un-American ActivitiesnCommittee — even more thannMargaret Bourke-White, one of thenfour wives Caldwell accumulated alongnthe way.nCaldwell’s early life was spent primarilynin backwater communities in thenCarolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia.nRaised to think independently and nevernrequired to attend church, he developedncontempt for the religious enthusiasmnthat flourished among hisn30/CHRONICLESnneighbors “with all the unbounded vigornof an untrampled kudzu vine.” Caldwellnentered a public school for the firstntime as a seventh grader in Atoka,nTennessee.nA year and a half later (1918) thenCaldwells moved to Wrens, Georgia.nAn adolescent entrepreneur, Caldwellnbecame a blueing salesman. Grit distributor,nshoe delivery boy, scrap rubbernsalesman, rabbit trapper-hide salesrnan,nand chauflFeur for the Millington,nTennessee YMCA. “Prone to be farnmore interested in the activities ofnpeople in daily life than . . . the slownand tedious prospect of acquiring antextbook education,” Caldwell furthernbusied himself as a printer’s devil,nscorekeeper for the semipro baseballnteam, stringer for the Augusta Chronicle,nand driver for a village physician.nFrom Wrens, Caldwell went tonErskine College in Due West, SouthnCarolina. Unable to stomach thenforced piety, Caldwell spent much ofnhis time on freight trains, traveling.nBolstered by an “invigorating feeling ofnrelief to know that I was finally escapingnfrom a fanatic connection thatnmight have made a subdued captive ofnme to the end of my days,” he summarilynescaped Erskine in his secondnyear by taking a passenger train to NewnOrleans. Short-lived jobs as a decknhand, racetrack stable boy, and magazinensalesman finally earned him somenjail time for vagrancy in Bogalusa,nLouisiana. He may well have spent hisnlife there, except for a letter home.nWhen Caldwell arrived back, his father,nwith no hint of recrimination,n”came up to me and smiled and shooknhands without a trace of displeasuren… I can recall only one thing thatnwas said as we walked along . . . ‘Whatndid you think of Louisiana, son . . .nIt’s a much different kind of world, isn’tnit?'”nBenefiting from a United Daughtersnof the Confederacy scholarship, Caldwellnwent to the University of Virginianthat fall. There he developed an interestnin English, economics, and sociology,nas the “basic elements necessary fornthe achievement of reality in interpretivenand imaginative storytelling.” Twonyears later he was off to Philadelphianfor the summer session as a student atnthe Wharton School and to work as annight-shift counterman at a fast-foodncubbyhole, and bodyguard for a Chi­nnnnese student.nReturning to Virginia for the springnsemester, Caldwell met Helen Lannigan,na graduate student. In Marchn1925, they were married. When hisnUDC scholarship and dollar-a-nightnjob as a poolroom attendant provedninsufficient, Caldwell boarded an Atlanta-boundntrain, leaving “behind forevernmy car and my university.” Afternholding a $20-a-week job as a reporternon the Atlanta Journal, Erskine Caldwellnwent to live rent-free in a Mainenwoods house owned by Helen’s parents.nHere, ably assisted by Helen, henset himself to become a selling writer.nHis first books attracted little attention.nThen came Tobacco Roadn• (1932) and God’s Little Acre (1933).nTobacco Road portrayed Georgia dirtnfarmers like Jeeter Lester, to whomn”the smell of that raw earth turningnover behind the plow” was in thenblood. As an expose of mental andnmoral anemia among people of scantnhope, “who ignore the civilization thatncontains them as completely as thencivilization ignores them,” (as The Nationnput it), Tobacco Road created annuproar that made Caldwell simultaneouslynfamous and infamous, allowingnhim to live in luxury in midtown NewnYork. Poverty, Helen, and the Mainenwoods were soon left behind.nBy the late 1930’s, Broadway andntouring company productions of TobacconRoad were drawing the attentionnof censors in city after city and werenbringing Caldwell thousands of dollarsnweekly. With its publication in paperbackn(1946) and the sales of his othernbooks, Caldwell was on the way tonbecoming “America’s best-selling author.”nGod’s Little Acre was evaluated by ancontemporary reviewer for the ChicagonDaily as “an off-color story skillfullyncombined with an enlarged comicnstrip.” He added that what Faulknernimplied, Caldwell recorded—the barrennfarm, the shut mill, the brutalnimagery of poor whites ensconced innignorance and sordid surroundings. Bynthe early 1960’s God’s Little Acre hadnexceeded the sales of Gone With thenWind by over a million copies. Alongnwith Tobacco Road, it continues to benCaldwell’s primary claim to literarynfame.nCaldwell was anything but a proponentnof a pastoral, conservative, reli-n