cover image Isle of Joy

Isle of Joy

Franklin Daugherty. Black Belt Press, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-881320-78-4

Mobile, Ala., harbors all manner of misfits, schemers, fools and damn fools in this ribald send-up of aristocratic pretension amidst the mongrel reality of America. Like all good satirists, Daugherty pays no respect to geographic boundaries, class or race, subjecting all folly and vanity to his broad wit. Sexy, iconoclastic McCorquodale de la Rouchefoucauld (the natives say ""Roshfookle""), the niece of a poor woman obsessed with uncovering proof of high-born lineage, is convinced she is ordained to be the savior of postmodernism. When H. Sloane Wolfe, a sexually predatory, socially prominent sexagenarian banking tycoon, falls in lust with her, she determines to parlay his attentions into her own avant-garde sidewalk cafe, which she hopes will be the cornerstone for establishing Mobile as the New World Mecca of postmodernism. Her plans run afoul of a group of nouveau-riche young Rotarian types who hatch a scheme to level the historic district and build a supermall and a ""Six Flags Over Jesus"" theme park. As the new South meets the old South, it's not exactly a case of the barbarians versus the cultured, since just about everyone who has something to say is more pedantic than intelligent. But Daugherty liberally salts his tale with subplots and themes involving greed, petty social ambition, artistic freedom, gay rights and Bible Belt puritanism. Happily, earnest social commentary never gets in the way of vigorous burlesque. (Nov.)