SMALL PRESS BOOK AWARD
A Novel by
Translated and Published in Greece
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THE GEOGRAPHY OF WOMEN
|Telling her story at the end of the 20th century, Laydia Spain O'Hara, untangles the past of fourteen characters' lives tied together in a small southern Illinois town from the mid-1950s of Elvis through the mid-1960s after Kennedy's Camelot. Her comic tale of faces unmasking--and conflicts resolving--is a human journey about coming of age and inventing one's self despite all gossip while keeping the torch of true love burning. In a triangle with her two best friends, Jessarose and Mizz Lulabelle, Laydia Spain outwits convention, opens her own boarding house, and discovers a solidarity in new ideas of family, home, and the human heart that mirror the vast social changes sweeping American culture during the mid-century.
In the tradition of spunky small-town girls whose vernacular descends from Huck Finn, Laydia Spain dares to take on her own father, Big Jim O'Hara, the postman and accordion champ who named her Laydia Spain; Mister Henry Apple, the prescription-eating pharmacist who marries the bleach-blond Mizz Lulabelle; and Mister Wilmer Fox, the red-headed traveling salesman whose revolving returns to the little town of Canterberry always upset everyone's plans to live happily ever after.
Ultimately, the dark-skinned cinnamon girl, Jessarose, who takes off on the road to fame and fortune as a roadhouse blues singer, defines the direction of love, because, while "the human face is a limitless terrain that just pulls you right in....the geography of women is where nature itself takes course homeward bound, the long route or the short, the high road or the low."
Comic, good-humored, nostalgic, and as vivid as a fast-talking film script with music, Jack Fritscher's sixth book of fiction is lean writing laced with witty observations and a couple of tear drops of genuine human compassion. This is a real storyteller's tale--a very polished tale--of lively characters living in a specific place at a time that has reached the level of myth in American popular culture.
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