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Issue 112 - Southern Farce

Whisky Magazine Issue 112
June 2013

 

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Southern Farce

The tale of X loves Y who loves Z who loves A

Like whisky comedy comes in a variety of local styles and flavours, and there's something wonderfully and ridiculously genteel about Southern American farce, especially when it's set in New Orleans. Walker Percy and John Kennedy O'Toole are two practitioners of the genre that spring to mind, and I was fortunate enough recently to discover a third.

With their slightly formal quality, the opening sentences of James Wilcox's 1993 novel Modern Baptists sets a decidedly Southern oddball tone:
When F. X. got out of jail, he went to live with his half-brother, Mr. Pickens, who lived right next door to Dr. Henry's, the all-night store that sold beer and ice cubes and gas. The reason Mr. Pickens let him live there…was because Mr. Pickens had a mole on his back that looked sort of like a fat New Jersey.

F. X. was in prison for selling cocaine. So he's a perfect foil for “Mr.” Bobby Pickens – a cowardly 41 year old hypochondriac who works as a floor manager in a local department store.

To make matters worse, handsome F. X. takes up with Toinette, a teenage employee of Pickens. Bobby has a massive, unrequited crush on her – despite the fact that she is what is often called “white trash” in the South:
Astir with a muddled half-formed love for Toinette that was growing stronger by the minute, Mr. Pickens resolved to transfer this feeling to real wife material, a mature woman who was sober, industrious, intelligent, and if not beautiful, at least well groomed. That was the ...

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