Memoir Reviews 
The Knife Thrower’s Assistant:
Memoirs of a Human Target
By Ronnie Claire Edwards
HAWK Publishing, 2000
ISBN: 1-930709-19-6


Ronnie Claire Edwards has adapted her one-woman stage act of The Knife Thrower’s Assistant into a printed version.  Those who remember her as “Corabeth Godsey” on The Waltons or as “Bootsie” on The Torkelsons, will hear her voice coming off of these pages. 

The memoir is presented as opening a series of boxes marked with lot numbers, and each holding a collection of items from a special moment in Edwards’ life or that of a relative.  What becomes clear in the opening is that Ronnie Claire Edwards comes from a family of eccentrics who are as endearing as they are unique.   

Oklahoma City native Edwards learned acting by being thrown in the river, so to speak.  At age 15, she replaced a knife thrower’s assistant who had developed nervous habits.  She learned early to possess nerves of steel in front of an audience. 

By age 17, Edwards was performing with an actors group in a mining camp.  They put on twelve shows a week for tourists.  Edwards explored the saloon and shared the tales of the earlier occupants.   

What becomes extremely clear is that Ronnie Claire Edwards comes from a family that seeks adventure.  There were stories of people who were looked on as freaks, but had heartbreaking stories with happy endings, such as the orphan train girl who had been burned and was adopted by the Edwards.   

Uncle Homer was not one to collect dust.  He rode with Pancho Villa, owned a flea circus, and managed a performing monkey.   

Her father, an attorney, was a special man.  He would post bail for a drunken man in the tank or a cockfighter.  He disapproved of their actions, but understood they were troubled souls.  Edwards uses letters from her father throughout the book, which display his sense of humor and heart. 

As fun as this book is to read, I know to hear an audio version or to see the one-woman show would be a special treat.  Let’s hope that Ronnie Claire Edwards will take her life story on the road again.

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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