Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Gate at the Stairs

[protagonist Tassie describing some of the idiosyncrasies of her hometown in Wisconsin]

Prepositions mystified. Almost everyone said "on" accident instead of "by." They said "I'm bored of that" or "Wanna come with?" They pronounced "milk" to rhyme with "elk" and "milieu" as "miloo," as in skip to my loo--when they said it at all. And they used tenses like "I'd been gonna." As in, "I'd been gonna to do that but then I never got around toot." It was the hypothetical conditional past, time and intention carved so obliquely and fine that I could only almost comprehend it, until, like Einstein's theory of relativity, which also sometimes flashed comet like in my view, it whooshed away again, beyond my grasp. "I'd been gonna to do that" seemed to live in some isolated corner of the grammatical time-space continuum where the language spoken was a kind of Navajo or old, old French. It was part of a language with tenses so countrified and bizarrely conceived, I'm sure there was one that meant, "Hell yes, if I had a time machine!" People here would narrate an ordinary event entirely in the past perfect "I'd been driving to the store, and I'd gotten out, and she'd come up to me and I had said..." It never reached any other tense. All was backstory. All was preamble. The past severed prologue and was never uttered to be anything but. Who else on earth spoke like this?
pg. 67
A Gate at the Stairs
Lorrie Moore

I've actually read this one before, but it's well-written and well-conceived and it'd been long enough (oh so many other reads ago) that I enjoyed the unwinding of the plot and the character development even as I anticipated them.

This lady can write. And, with all that I read, I've come to understand that a lot of the novels written, promoted, reviewed, and revered are not well written. I love words and writers who use them so very well.

gods in Alabama

There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself, back in Possett. I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches.

I made a deal with God two years before I left there. At the time, I thought He made out pretty well. I offered Him a three-for-one deal: All He had to do was perform a miracle. He fulfilled His end of the bargain, so I kept my three promises faithfully, no matter what the cost. I held our deal as sacred for twelve solid years. But that was before God let Rose Mae Lolley show up on my doorstep, dragging my ghosts and her own considerable baggage with her.
gods in Alabama
Joshilyn Jackson

Stumbled on this one last week, and then yesterday I didn't put it down. Clever, witty, quirky characters and writing. Takes the stereotypical Southern genre to a whole new level. Don't see how I missed its debut in 2005, but obviously the reviews at that time were very favorable...

“Joshilyn Jackson’s stellar debut has all the elements of great southern fiction, a plucky heroine with a sense of humor,a gripping tale and a mysterious dead body that needs explanation. Arlene Fleet, with a crystal clear voice and purpose takes the reader on a wild ride of despair, hope and redemption that no reader is likely to ever forget. What a storyteller! What a new, original voice!”
- Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia.

gods in Alabama has everything a first (or any) novel should possess but seldom does: an engaging plot, a protagonist whose original voice has you alternately laughing out loud and misting up, and a vividly etched sense of place… What really elevates gods, though, is Joshilyn Jackson’s fresh, unpredictable way with words. She writes so creatively that you slow down, because every sentence is a delight of some sort… gods in Alabama leaves readers grateful for the journey and smiling at the redemptive powers of love. Fresh…unpredictable…satisfying…the kind of book you hate to finish but can’t wait to pass on to friends.”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A winning blend of Steel Magnolias and Sweet Home Alabama with a whodunit twist.”
- Glamour
“Wild, salacious, and hard to put down… Reading the book is like sitting on your neighbor’s porch, drinking lemonade, and listening to all the good gossip… a great new voice for Southern literature. Joshilyn Jackson’s sweet, sassy, smart Southern voice is one that will resonate for those born and raised below the Mason-Dixon and Yankees alike.”
- Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“This novel has deep shadows and sharp edges. And if you’re not careful, it will break your heart.”
- Creative Loafing (GA)

Good news! Ms. Jackson has a backlist and a brand new book scheduled for release September 25th.