Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse (Paperback)
Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse by Valerie Nieman tells the story of Dinah, an orphan child of Appalachia who runs away to a carnival, and the emotional, physical, and spiritual journey she embraces. Born in the depths of the Depression, the biracial child is "given" to the childless Gastons to raise. She eventually finds her way out of exploitation into a life on the road as a carnival hootchie-kootchie dancer and fortune-teller. Self-educated with the King James Bible and a volume of Shakespeare, her voice blends Elizabethan phrasings with Appalachian and carnival speech. When Dinah is afflicted with vitiligo, she adds a turn as a "freak" called the Leopard Lady as the show travels back roads from the Carolinas to Pennsylvania. A dropout from divinity school joins the show, and they begin a debate over the nature of God and man-each seeking an understanding of their place in the universe-that becomes a close friendship.