A New Attitude
by Charlotte Hughes, contemporary (2001)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-863-7

I am not that familiar with Southern quirks and humor, but if I am to make a blanket statement about Southern women in general judging from the portrayal of them in this book, I'd put on my posh Eliza Doolittle Brit accent and say all those Southern women must be blooming, bloody bonkers.

Yes, I do not understand this book. At all. There must be something really wrong when I completely emphatize with why Marilee Abernathy's preacher husband and son would run off and live in a trailer park with a waitress/hussy named LaFonda Bonaire. They're lucky they didn't shoot themselves in the head first.

When this book begins, at 35, Marilee is trying to kill herself. After a spectacular fiasco involving carbon monoxide and failed dousing with oil, she decides to hang herself, only to make a big boo-boo out of it. Finally, she decides to cancel her suicide plans, steps off the box, whoops, and - uuurgh.

Neighbor Sam Brewer rescues this mad woman.

Marilee immediately snaps at him, acting like a complete demented lunatic as she treats Sam like a flea-ridden ragamuffin man.

Then comes Marilee's gaggle of female baboons called "friends" and they start raising cacophony.

Somewhere, I'm sure, there must be someone who finds all these "kooky, quirky la-la" humor so funny that the sight of anything pink will tinkle them pink for weeks. Somewhere out there too, someone will say that these characters' preoccupation with propriety, image, and dainty little teacups even as they dangle in suffocation from a noose some splendid form of "dark, ironic comedy at top form, reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino after three bong sniffs". Somewhere out there, surely.

Me, I'm numbed. The only feeling I get as I stumble through Marilee's pity party, her demented relationship with boring Sam Brewer, and all those "Southern humor" on berserk ice overdrive - I am numbed. Stupefied. Stumped. By page thirty, my eyes are bulging out the way people do when they are staring at the ticking of the clock attached to a time bomb. By page two hundred, I probably look like a bullfrog being sat on by an elephant.

Bonkers, these crazy Southern wimmin', I tell you. Sheer, bloody bonkers. I'm outta here.

Rating: 40

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