With a reporter's eye for the inside story and a historian's
grasp of the ironies in our collective past, Greg Downs
affectionately observes some of the last survivors of what Greil
Marcus has called the old, weird America. Living off the map and
out of sight, folks like Embee, Rudy, Peg, and Branch define
themselves by where they are, not by what they eat, drink, or wear.
The man who is soon to abandon his family in "Ain't I a King,
Too?" is mistaken for the populist autocrat of Louisiana, Huey P.
Long--on the day after Long's assassination. In "Hope Chests," a
history teacher marries his student and takes her away from a place
she hated, only to find that neither one of them can fully leave it
behind. An elderly man in "Snack Cakes" enlists his grandson to
help distribute his belongings among his many ex-wives, living and
dead. In the title story, another intergenerational family tale, a
young boy is caught in a feud between his mother and grandmother.
The older woman uses the language of baseball to convey her view of
religion and nobility to her grandson before the boy's mother takes
him away, maybe forever.
Caught up in pasts both personal and epic, Downs's characters
struggle to maintain their peculiar, grounded manners in an
increasingly detached world.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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