Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Salon: gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson

Yesterday I finished southern writer Joshilyn Jackson's gods in Alabama. It was a fast-flowing novel that I would qualify as a great read for the beach or for the interminable waits at the airport, or to pass the time during air travel.

Hailing from Alabama myself (although I haven't lived there since my parents whisked us off to Florida when I was 12 or 13), I was intrigued by the title. The book crooked its little finger at me and beckoned. I was on an afternoon stroll through the Pentagon City shopping Center in Arlington, VA. I was largely bored and ducked into one of those cheesy types of stores featuring a mishmash of everything from Washington DC souvenirs to scores of newspapers and mass market novels by the likes of John Grisham. Then, there it was, at first glance looking like a Thelma and Louise kind of story sans Thelma, reminding me of the wayward southern belle character played by Melanie Griffith in Crazy in Alabama. I dig a story set in the devious backdrop of the unpredictable South, my home stompin' grounds, seasoned just right, with a dash of mystery, murder and romance thrown in.

When Arlene Fleet headed off to college in Chicago, she made three promises to God: She would never again lie, she would stop fornicating with every boy who crossed her path, and she'd never, ever go back to her tiny hometown of Possett, Alabama (the "fourth rack of Hell"). All God had to do in exchange was to make sure the body of high school quarterback Jim Beverly was never found.

Ten years later, Arlene has kept her promises, but an old school-mate has recently turned up asking questions. And now Arlene's African American beau has given her a tough ultimatum: introduce him to her family, or he's gone. As she prepares to confront guilt, discrimination, and a decade of deception, Arlene is about to discover just how far she will go to find redemption - and love.


Linda said...

Dear HappilyCoupled,

Thanks for telling me about this book. I hadn't heard of it and I love Southern writers -- started back when I read Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor in college.

A book by a Southern writer I recently read is "Dancing Backward in Paradise" by Vera Jane Cook and I highly recommend it. Some of what you wrote about "Gods in Alabama" reminded me of it -- it has elements of tragedy, humor and mystery as Grace goes on a quest to find herself. It starts in Tennessee and ends in NY City, during the 1960 hippie days. I loved it and hope you do too.


SmallWorld said...

I am adding this to my TBR, thanks! I read Jackson' Between, Georgia a few months ago and really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the book beckoning you over in the store to buy it. I know all about those types of books, I meet them far too often for my bank managers liking!