Southern Discomfort

Tena Clark. Touchstone, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6794-2
Clark paints a raw and deeply honest picture of her childhood in 1950s and ’60s Mississippi. Clark, who is white, writes movingly of her black maid and stand-in mother, Virgie, who was not allowed to eat in her kitchen or white restaurants; of her mother’s forced stay at a barbaric mental hospital, at the insistence of her father; of her father’s casual and continued cruelty toward her sister, Toni (he hit her when she was a child and insulted her weight gain as an adult); and, ultimately, of the forces that helped Clark to leave her hometown for the Univ. of Southern Mississippi to pursue a career in music and the short-lived relationship that resulted in her daughter, Cody. What Clark shows so beautifully is that the people she discusses, as unredeemable as they may at first seem, are much more complex: her father, never one to shy away from using racial epithets, secretly helped build the local black church; her alcoholic mother, trying to deal with her husband’s many affairs, eventually stood up to him; and Clark herself realized at the age of six that she was gay, but she still dressed up like a conventional Southern belle. Clark’s narrative draws the reader in to a wonderful story of the South going from old to new. Agent: Brettne Bloom, Book Group. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-6303-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-6302-9
Ebook - 978-1-5011-6796-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-5011-6795-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-6410-1
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