myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: Gone South by Robert R. McCammon

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gone South by Robert R. McCammon

Gone South
Robert R. McCammon
published by Pocket Books, 1992
392 pgs.

Gone South is a "AR-AR",or "Relevant Re-read". In case you haven't noticed, I make up a lot of goofy pet names and grand titles. It's one of my small amusements in a life filled with few, so give me a break. Now, where was I?Ah yes, Gone South...I read it when it first came out way back in the golden days before I had children. Sigh...those were the days. It has a place on the Supreme Keeper Shelf in my household, but I take it down every couple of years and read it again.
There are few authors that almost automatically go onto the Supreme Keeper shelf. You've got the Grand Masters- King and Koontz, and the A.A.M.W.I.L.* like the Kellermans, Ms. Johansen, and Childs (Jack Reacher- you da man!). You have your ALL time favorite romance divas like Laura Kinsale and Kathleen Eagle. Writers that have earned their spot in my heart with every tap of the magic keyboard beneath their fabulously talented fingertips.
And than you have, sort of, McCammon.
I say "sort of", because sometimes his books are really, really good, and sometimes they are really, really, well... average. I suppose I could take the time, review the publishing dates, and see if there was a year when he hit his "Stride", and has written literary gold ever since. But that would require far more energy than a devoted Laz-E-ass (Like the Laz-E-boy, only not a chair... a butt) like me can spare. I'll just say that some of his books, Like Gone South, belong on the Shelf of all Shelves (along with Swansong and Boys' Life) and then others, well, "snooze" I suppose, is a nice way to put it... (see Baal).
Gone South begins with a rather depressing morning in the life of Vietnam vet, Dan Lambert. He has been laid off from his longtime job at a construction company and now he hangs around so-called Death Valley, hoping to catch a "ticket" for the day (Think Home Depot, and the Hispanic gentlemen waiting outside for a homeowner to give them a day's wages for roofing, fence-raising, etc.). He is divorced, has not seen his son in six years, is slowly dying from leukemia, conceals a walnut-sized tumor in his skull that makes him chew tylenol like pez, and owns nothing of value except for his truck, purchased when he had a steady job and didn't know yet that the Grim Reaper was traveling down his personal drive. After a long, thoroughly depressing day, in which the reader learns that, like a lot of guys, Dan the man had a particularly bad time in Nam and has bitter memories of the place and what happened there, he gets home to his dumpy little apartment in time to open the mail and receive a repo notice on his truck. The bank loan manager, who used to be an understanding kind of friendly dude, has been replaced by an Unknown Guy, and with resignation but desperation, Dan heads in to try to talk Unknown Guy into giving him a little more time with his wheels.
The reader knows, with a sickening pang, that this is not going to happen, not in the real world but watches in helpless fascination as Dan meets with Emory Blanchard. As we had feared, Dan's reasonable request for an extension is denied and he is told to bring by the keys in the morning. Now Dan snaps, goes more than a little nutzo, and so begins his periolous journey that leads... South.
A fugitive on the run, poor Dan is a sympathetic character. A guy who seems to squish in shit every cautious damn step of his life. He ends up in an odd-couple situation with Arden Halliday, a young woman who is heading into the swamps in search of a legendary faith healer she thinks will remove the huge birthmark on her face, and her bad luck along with it. Their trail is closely followed by two crazy-ass bounty hunters, the likes of which no reader has ever read, who are determined to get their share of the $15,000 reward being posted for Dan. Trust me, these guys are not exactly Dog. Flint was in a freak show before he entered the bounty hunter life.... he and his brother, that is, whom he is very, um... "attached" to. That should give you a good idea and a shiver. Then there Pelvis Eisley, a faded clone of the King himself, who walks around in his jumpsuit, eating twinkies, talking incessantly, and clutching his lil' bulldog, Mama.
The two are hot on Dan's trail as he makes his way deeper into the swamps, and a land as far removed from middle America as can be imagined. As Burt, a man they meet there, tells them " see this swamp down here and it still looks like it's part of the United States, right? Well the map lies. This down here's a world all to its ownself. It's got its own language, its own industries, its own...well I wouldn't call 'em laws." Deeper into the swamp they go, and the adventures they meet there stay with the Reader for a good long time.
Dan is a good man, a kind man, haunted by his past in a world with no future, and Arden is a woman living on the power of dreams alone. You can't help but be swept up in this moving, astonishing story, written in the same wonderful style as McCammon's other Book of Perfection, Boy's Life, I give it a red on the Reader's Rainbow. Enjoy yourself reading this. You won't ever think of Elvis or birthmarks the same way again.

* action and mystery writers I luve


Blogger baggelboy said...

Thank you for adding me to your list of people.
I like you to so I added you to my list of nice blog people.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Bitty said...

Hmmm. I may actually get this one. I see it's on Amazon used for a penny, my favorite price.

I have quite a backlog of unread books; I'm saving up for my retirement. With my luck, though, I'll go blind first.


9:53 AM  
Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

I've only read one McCammon book, and that's Swan Song. If you've read it, or ever get around to it, I would be interested in seeing your review of it. That's the book that first got me interested in tarot cards, by the way.

You're off to a good start, Meowkatt, you're one of my newest additions to my blogroll. And thanks for putting me on yours.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Thanks, Patrick. Swan Song is a classic. One of my Top Twenty Books Of Ever. I am kinda hooked on apocalyptic disaster books, and that one is right up there with "The Stand". I will definitely review it next time I read it. Thanks for putting me on your blogroll and thanks for coming by. :)

7:09 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Bitty, get the book- it's AWESUM DUDE. And no blind long as you aren't masturbating too much, you're in no danger. he he...Maybe I should review urban myths and legends sometime huh?

Baggelboy- dude- your cartoons are so cool! Thanks for coming by.

7:11 AM  
Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

That's a cool idea, reviewing urban myths. Also, what about music reviews, both recordings and current concert tours, if you go to any?

By the way, hope you don't mind I featured you in one of my posts, plus I put your technorati picture on it.

Which reminds me-food and restaurant reviews? You could really throttle Starbucks.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

I'm honored to be in your post, of course!
As far as music, my tastes are so eclectic that I don't think I would make any sense to anyone on this planet, and I couldn't even defend some of my own choices...hehehe. Just for an "instance",t he last two concerts I have attended were, respectively, Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken and Ozzy Osbourne. There ya go.
Food reviews, now that's another thing to ponder....
I know, Starbucks sucks.

11:51 PM  

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