cover image The Yazoo Blues

The Yazoo Blues

John Pritchard, . . C&M Online Media/New South, $24.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-1-58838-217-7

In this insightful, laugh-out-loud follow-up to his debut novella, Junior Ray , Pritchard again indulges the profanely backwoods, occasionally backwards, voice of Mississippi “good ol' boy” Junior Ray Loveblood. Formerly deputy sheriff of a Mississippi delta town, Junior Ray is now an aging parking lot guard at the floating Lucky Pair-O-Dice Casino, and an amateur historian. His account of a failed Union naval expedition at Yazoo Pass on the Mississippi River also includes the story of his research expedition, with his friend Mad Owens, to the Magic Pussy Cabaret & Club “up in Meffis.” Among other theories, Junior Ray speculates that peyote ruined Union Lt. Cmdr. Watson Smith's life, that love undermined Mad Owens's and that the strip club saved his own. Each interwoven story is as surprising and strong as Junior Ray himself, who conjures a surreal scene of ironclads logjammed in a bayou as colorfully as he recounts a backroom lap dance from his best friend's granddaughter Petunia. Between expletives and misanthropic digressions, Junior Ray reveals a lifetime of deep, unlikely friendships, even getting at an occasional truth in a humble manner that's—as Junior Ray might put it—“as soft as a quail's fart.” (Oct.)