Georgia Bottoms: a novel by Mark Childress

GeorgiaBottomsChildressThis is a somewhat comical look at a Southern belle who at first glance is rather selfish and self-absorbed.  She has her life all organized into separate compartments — her mother (known as Little Mama) who is suffering from early signs of dementia, her Brother who is on parole and has a drinking problem, her best friend who is mayor and happens to be a lesbian who wishes the relationship was more, her religion which she doesn’t believe in at all any more but still maintains perfect attendance on Sunday mornings, and her six lovers (or patients as she likes to think of them) who each have a particular night of the week set aside for them and each thinks he is a lover and the only one.  The community believes she earns her money by making and selling quilts which she supposedly works on in the evenings when one daren’t disturb her.

Georgia spends her hour in church Sunday morning contemplating her life rather than listening to the sermon.  We find her doing just that as the novel begins — checking her mental “to do” list, contemplating her age and beauty, suffering silently about the lack of air conditioning in the church, and pleasantly remembering the hours spent last night in the arms of one of her regulars.  At one point, however, she begins to realize what the preacher (her Saturday night client, Eugene), is saying and what he is about to do:  confess his own sins and completely destroy her reputation.  Georgia is nothing, if not a fast thinker, and the next thing we know, she has made her way to the aisle and executed a perfect faint which distracts everyone and derails the sermon.  A little while later, recuperating in the choir room, she is confronted by Eugene’s wife, Brenda, who apparently is intent on embarrassing her husband, Georgia, herself, and her family, and if she has anything to do with it, it will happen.  Eugene and Brenda will have to go!

The story of Georgia Bottoms is fast-paced and involves us with many of the people in the community of Six Points, Alabama, a small backwater where integration has happened but not so far as to impose itself on the white community too much.  Georgia’s philosophy is : “Everybody just forget about it.  White people, get used to it. Black people, stop dwelling on it. . . get on with our lives.”  Her friend Mayor Krystal is trying to annex the black community of the town but it’s being blocked by Judge Barnett, Georgia’s Sunday night client.  Georgia never asks a favour but she does know how to go in a roundabout way to achieve a particular goal.  She doesn’t realize what Krystal realizes, that adding all those black voters will likely see her ousted as mayor.

Mark-Childress-by-Kelly-Campbell

Author Mark Childress

As the story develops, we see Georgia fall into lots of “scrapes” but eventually find her way out, showing lots of gumption and poise as she does it.  Given Georgia’s way to support her various relations, you can expect a bit of description of sexual encounters but there’s nothing vulgar or gratuitous about it and there’s not a lot of it.  This really is just a fun, fast read about a Southern gal using her talents to get by with a bit of fun poked at racists and hypocrites. The ending will likely be a surprise and leave you quite contented.  I’m not going to spoil it for you.  A great Southern book. * * * *

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About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
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