HAVE YOU HEARD

Anderson Ferrell, Author . Bloomsbury $23.95 (295p) ISBN 978-1-58234-189-7

Jerry Chiffon, protagonist of this funny, poignant tragicomedy, is something of a gay prodigy. Born to poor tobacco farmers, Jerry is blessed from the cradle with a penchant for child care and housewifery and a preternatural decorating sense. After his mother dies giving birth to his huge-headed younger brother, Jerry mothers him and cares for his father "as good as an unmarried sister would have." The ladies of Branch Creek, N.C., take this kindred spirit under their wing and, thumbing their noses at gender stereotypes, further feminize him with lessons in etiquette and hostessing. The grown-up Jerry sojourns in Greenwich Village of the late '70s and early '80s, getting his fill of out gay life and ministering to the beginning AIDS epidemic. Finally, he returns to serve as Branch Creek's paragon of taste and, decked out in a woman's pants suit and fake Chanel purse, mount an assassination attempt against a homophobic senator. Ferrell (Where She Was ; Home for the Day ) chronicles Jerry's rise from redneckery to refinement as a study in contrasts, offering up excruciating childbirths, bloody auto accidents and baroque gay debaucheries alongside rapt meditations on the niceties of form and propriety. His lucid prose vividly delineates a rich array of characters and voices (Jerry's story is told by three different narrators, each with a unique take on it), from politely catty Southern matrons and dissolute trust-fund roués to racist good-ol'-boys. The result is something of a Queer Eye for the Old South, but one that finds a surprising moral gravity in the subtleties of floral arrangements and table settings. (Apr.)

Forecast: Though Ferrell's first novel received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and his second was nominated for a Pulitzer, his Southern tales failed to reach a wide audience. Perhaps, with Have You Heard's warmth, comedy and au courant flair, the third time will be a charm.

Reviewed on: 02/02/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-59691-783-5
Paperback - 295 pages - 978-1-58234-556-7
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.