Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Southern Fried by Rob Rosen

Southern Fried, the romantic misadventure of Trip Jackson and his stable boy, Zeb Jones, is about the love of family, the love of one's heritage, and the love between friends, both old and new. It's as antebellum as Tara ever was, but with a deliciously suspenseful and sexy twist. Because what our heroes are quick to discover is that not all is as it appears to be, and sometimes life can get turned upside down when you least expect it. Especially when lip-smacking romance, deep-dish humor, and a side of mystery fall on your plate, all, of course, served up southern-style.

Shortly after beginning this book, I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. I thought the lazy, too-familiar first person POV would wear on me in no time and I’d never get through the thing. After all, the thing that stands out for me the most in this book is the removal of the wall. You see, we, the reader, are supposed to be invisible. We aren’t supposed to be a part of the story. Identify with it, sure, and be able to sympathize with the main character, absolutely. But actually be included in the story telling? Have the narrator turn around and look us right in the eye and grin, a ‘gottcha’ look in his eye? No way. That isn’t supposed to happen.

In this book, it happens all the time, and while I thought it would drive me nuts, in fact, it had me laughing out loud.

This could have gone the rout of a very melodramatic southern mystery, but the very fact we’ve been invited into the story to speculate what the hell’s going on, right alongside the protagonists, steers it down an entirely different back-woods dirt road. And what a ride it is.

Part of the story I spent trying to figure out the mystery, and the other, and by far the bigger part, I spent being distracted by all the sex (of which there is an inordinate amount, a fact the narrator makes no bones about pointing out, numerous times) and all the pretty men and insane predicaments they find themselves in.

The end result was that I just had a grand time reading this book. It was fun. Unadulterated fun. Maybe even the literary equivalent of good, old-fashioned, home-cooked southern fried meal: it’ll fill you up and leave you happy and satisfied and so replete there’s no room to regret that it’s just not good for you :)

From Trip Jackson, southern boy and narrator of the story:

On his staff: “Jake, as it turned out, was even dreamier in person than form a second story window. Picture Charlton Hesston, not so much Moses, but more like when he was leather clad in Planet of the Apes, and you wouldn’t be far off the mark. And damn if Roy didn’t come a close second. A lithe little stunner he was. Guess being a gardener on an estate the size of Cleveland kept his fit and trim. And tan. Did I mention stunning? It bears repeating. Still, with Zeb close by, I kept it professional, only drooling ever so slightly and quickly whipping it away. Last but not least was Stella, whose grip nearly crushed my hand. I winced, but managed to stay upright.”

On his adventures into intrigue: “I’d just been picked up by my granny’s butler, in drag, with my boyfriend in the back seat. And here I thought New York was full of crazy adventures.”

On sacrificing his pool boy in the pursuit of clandestine intelligence gathering: “Well, howdy do,” Said Port, ogling our pool boy, southern drawl dripping out of his gaping maw like honey from a bee’s ass.

“Uh, howdy,” said Jake, clearly out of his element. Because, need I remind you, he was now surrounded by three gay men, two of which were in drag, and one handyman woman. It was more like happy hour at the Stud…”

Lip-licking. A fun time was had by all. Well, apart from Granny, who was dead from the beginning, but to hear tell, she made her own kind of fun, and she probably had a hoot watching her peeps from the hereafter as they scurried around trying to figure it all out.

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