Wednesday, November 28, 2012

#BookReview: Georgia Bottoms - Mark Childress

I swear I kept trying to find a redeeming quality in this woman.  You know how people tell you they're such a good person and you wonder why they have to tell you instead of just letting their actions speak for them?  That would be Georgia Bottoms.

As the prettiest woman in Six Points, Alabama, Georgia uses her feminine wiles against the men of town, allowing them to finance the upkeep on her family's antebellum mansion, as well as taking care of her pre-Alzheimer's mother and her brother, when he's not on a frequent vacation to the jailhouse.  Georgia doesn't apologize for entertaining a steady stream of clients.  She has the most prominent men in town at her beck and call, including her pastor, the sheriff and newspaper editor.  When Pastor Hendrix feels the need to confess his sins (and hers) in front of the congregation, Georgia plots to get rid of him, not realizing that doing so may be her ultimate downfall.

I love southern lit and I love chick lit, so Georgia Bottoms should have been the perfect read for me.  I was hesitant to read it though, because it was written by a male.  It's not often that male writers get women's voices right, in my opinion.  In this instance, I would say Mark Childress got it right with the women's voices, but the low key racism he tossed in really threw me for a loop.

Now I'm not naive enough to believe that in present day Alabama, in a town where the Internet isn't accessible and cell phones are a luxury because of a lack of towers, there is a culture of advanced or modern day thinking.  But Georgia's subtle racism and pre-conceived notions, even as she thinks of herself as forward thinking, coupled with her mother's blatant racism and the assertion that Rosa Parks ruined everything, seem to be the author's thinly veiled thoughts.

There are those who will say that based on the end of the book, my assumptions are false.  I would challenge them to go back and read every interaction involving people of color and then tell me I'm wrong.  At the very least, the author lacks firsthand interactions with people of color in his everyday life, resulting in tired stereotypes and suppositions in his writing about them.  I was, however, happy to see that in the end, Georgia would most likely meet a fate most befitting of her.

Published: February 2011

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