Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell - Ellen Douglas
"Julia and Nellie", about the author's attempt to imagine the lives of her grandmother and other women of her generation, is diffuse and rambling in structure; the author chose to tell it rather as she pieced her knowledge together, in snatches. Both it and the preceding essay, "Grant", give a sharp sense of the people and the society, in spite of Douglas constantly foregrounding her own uncertainty about these stories -- or maybe because of it? Douglas is concerned to say no more than she knows, and to give small details when she doesn't know larger things; she's trying not to use convention or assumptions to fill in the blanks. That helps her stories not to disappear into generalities.

But this sense of seeing clearly isn't present in "Hampton", because Douglas didn't know the man she's writing about very well, and because his experiences were so distant from hers; she knows the white people in his life, but otherwise, she can only report what he told her, and a few other fragments; it's necessarily distanced.

"On Second Creek" may be the best of the essays. Its main theme is not family stories, but not telling family stories; many things are deliberately shrouded in silence. It's a thought provoking subject. The author talks about her fiction-writer's instinct to fill in details; but memoirs based on history often try to present themselves as without gaps.