Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Only Sunshine - Lou Dischler


Even though I was born and raised in the Midwest, I've lived in the South for 18 years so I think I have the right to call myself a Southerner. I have survived hurricanes, I grow gardenias and jasmine in my yard, and I looooove my Southern Fiction. A perfect example of this genre is anything written by Connie May Fowler, where you will find the essence of the South on every page.

Now in my mind, there are two types of South. There are the debutantes and the old money and mint juleps and parties that use crystal goblets, and then there is the real South, the street-level South, with lots of cussin', shootin', drinkin', with plenty of gators and mosquitoes and swamp. I knew, when I met Lou Dischler at SIBA, and saw that little mischievous gleam in his eyes, that he was going to give us some of that real stuff, and it was going to be fun.

Synopsis: It is 1962, and Charlie Boone is living with his grandparents and little brother Jute in Louisiana. Charlie is a real piece of work...his inquisitive mind and his boyness is always getting him into trouble, and seems to have "gotten it honest" from his jailbird father and runaway mother. When Charlie's uncle, fresh out of prison, arrives into town with an ex-con girlfriend, a stolen Buick, and plans to make it big (whether it be selling pornographic bibles or robbing a bank), things really start to happen for Charlie and his small town of Red Church. Throw in a Cuban Missile Crisis, and you've got the makings of one helluva coming-of-age story.

My thoughts: I could call this book alot of things (hilarious, outrageous, and even a little bit precious), but the bottom line is that it is a nostalgic, comedic southern yarn. When you finish it (all 219 pages of it) in a day or less, you will set it down with a goofy grin on your face. It isn't hard to imagine a kid who thinks it is a great idea to bash a bullet with a rock to see what happens (Lou mentioned this part of the story came from his actual experience!). Or a kid who sneaks into the mayor's office to hide from the feared missiles, and experiments with the Mayor's whiskey and plays strip-poker with the cute twins from his class. This is what Southern Fiction is all about. It doesn't take itself too seriously, but there is enough shootin' and killin' and cussin' to give it a dose of realism. Even when there starts to be a body count (be it man or horse) I still just shook my head from the insanity and ridiculousness of it all.

The book is narrated primarily by Charlie, and occasionally by his Uncle Dan and Dan's girlfriend Lona. Dischler nailed the voice of a precocious nine year old to a tee...methinks he probably still has a little bit of nine-year-old in him! I did think that Dan's and Lona's voices interrupted the flow of the novel just a tad bit, even though their input is necessary to get the whole story. That still did not lessen the pure enjoyment of this book, which I would highly recommend.

4 out of 5 stars


17 comments:

Julie P. said...

This sounds wonderful. I'm actually not a Southerner anymore, but I grew up in the South. I am still drawn to good old Southern stories.

farmlanebooks said...

I'm not sure about this one - I think perhaps you have to have been there and experienced it to enjoy the reminiscing aspects of it?

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I have a copy of this one -- I'm geekily excited to read this one!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I sure do love the cover. It looks like it must have enough of mischievous humor to impart a goofy grin! :--)

Zibilee said...

I am also really excited to read this one and thought that Lou had an incredible charisma when we spoke to him. It sounds like it's going to be a wonderful read for me, and I am glad you liked it too!

Anna said...

I'm not from the South and I haven't spent a great deal of time there, but I just love Southern stories. This one sounds fun!

caite said...

ending a book with a goofy grin is a great recommendation.
Although, I am not sure you can consider Orlando the "south".... ;-)

Ti said...

I love how you split the Southerners up into two groups. I've read books about both groups but the group that grabs me the most is the REAL deal...the cussin' the shooting, etc.

The Bumbles said...

I'm with Caite - who told you Florida was the South?! haha. My Carolina families don't fit either of your categories - but they lean closer to the fun than the fancy, that's for sure! I am intrigued by that cover - and I admire any author who can believably write a child's point of view. Thanks for the suggestion. Now I have a few for you - have you read Cold Sassy Tree? Or All Over But The Shoutin'? Two of my favorites - one fiction and one memoir. Both all South.

Jenners said...

I'm a Yankee (with a few years as a Westerner) so I don't have a fairly accurate vision of the real South. But I know I love that cover!

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was a lot of fun, too! I found out what a good storyteller Dischler is when I fell for his line at SIBA. This book is an Okra Pick.

Beth F said...

I'm a Yankee through and through, but I love Southern fiction and this sounds great/

Nymeth said...

I have a soft spot for Southern literature (I'm not even quite sure why, as as you know my knowledge of your country in general and the South in particular is limited!), and this sounds like a lovely read to me.

Kathleen said...

I love how you described the two Souths. You are so right!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm intrigued at the separations of the South...I'm a born and bred Southern Mississippi gal and I've witnessed and experienced things in my lifetime that you other ladies "ain't never" seen! ;)

The reason the cussin', shootin', wild and wooly women stories are so funny is because they're all true...based on somebody's mama, grandma or Uncle Billy Bob:):)

Cold Sassy Tree is one of my all time lifelong favorite reads, Southern or not...what an incredible story.

I'm so glad this one is an Okra pick!! It's on my list! :)

Alice Teh said...

I'm actually heading to the South in January and I'm really, really excited!

Melissa M said...

I'm not really drawn to Southern fiction, but I'd rather have the real stuff than the fluffy stuff. And, since this is a short book, I actually may be able to finish it in a month. :)