Bradley's evocation of the South acquires new depth and charm in his fourth novel, after Love & Obits . Here, childhood friends rediscover the magic of their small-town roots. In the late '80s, aspiring young author Pace Burnette, the sale of his first novel under his belt, returns from up north to his home to the bayou town of Smoke, La., with the vague hope of putting Smoke's ailing economy back on its feet while he collects accolades and churns out bestsellers. Pace's rebellious best friend, Jay Carnihan, heir to the town's ailing general store and lunch counter, has found a scapegoat for Smoke's business woes in Winston Rayford Holly, a charismatic Arkansas billionaire who has opened one of his nationwide Monster Marts on the outskirts of town. Holly's high-volume stores symbolize for Jay the destruction of small-town America. When Jay gets the chance to confront Holly and to enact his fantasies of retribution, he and Pace undergo an adventure that changes them forever. Bradley fills narrator Burnette's eponymous town with colorful, likable characters--his rendering of the crusty Holly is the novel's triumph. Occasional cliches and moments of treacle do not spoil this otherwise delightful homespun narrative. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994 Release date: 04/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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