Cobb revisits his signature milieu of a backwater Alabama community (Harry Reunited) with a vengeance as, once again, he calls down a scourge of biblical proportions upon the stereotypical denizens of the postmodern, racially integrated South in this macabre, very black comedy. Former high school beauty queen, 40-ish Brenda Boykin, has mixed memories of her native Piper, Ala. Born into a trailer trash family, she transcended her low social status to pursue a career that now brings her back home as headmistress of the Piper Christian Academy, an elite private school. Her arrival fulfills the lustful fantasies of Roger Coles, the aging but omnipotent town probate judge, a self-made land baron and commander of the local white supremacy militia. Under pressure to win the state high school football championship for Piper Christian, local hero Wayne McClain--reformed ex-alcoholic coach and former Auburn All-American--who dumped Brenda after she aborted his baby when she was a 15-year-old cheerleader, talks Coles into letting him recruit a black superstar running back to the all-white academy. Meanwhile, Hollywood stud muffin Cody Klinger is in town to make a documentary film about the militia. These characters represent only a sampling of the population of the phantasmagoric community. Ghosts, bigotry, social elitism, abortion, football, skinheads, miscegenation, Holy Roller religion, paranormal phenomena, witchcraft, kinky sex, voyeurism, necrophobia, and a proximity to Mississippi are merely a few of the timeworn motifs that seem designed to qualify this novel as the quintessential burlesque of the Faulknerian school of Southern lit. As the scarred and in some cases permanently disabled protagonists limp toward the finish line, an apocalyptic finale blows Piper sky high. Fans of the gifted author will hope he can tame his baroque impulses and mold his material into a novel worthy of his talents. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999 Release date: 01/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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