Friday, March 25, 2011

Georgia Bottoms

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress
Little, Brown & Company, February 2011
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316033046

Georgia Bottoms is known in her small community of Six Points, Alabama, as a beautiful, well-to-do, and devoutly Baptist Southern belle.
Nobody realizes that the family fortune has long since disappeared, and a determinedly single woman like Georgia needs an alternative, and discreet, means of income. In Georgia's case it is six well-heeled lovers-one for each day of the week, with Mondays off - none of whom knows about the others.
But when the married preacher who has been coming to call (Saturdays) decides to confess their affair in front of the whole congregation, Georgia must take drastic measures to stop him. In GEORGIA BOTTOMS, Mark Childress proves once again his unmistakable skill for combining the hilarious and the absurd to reveal the inner workings of the rebellious human heart.

My Thoughts:

In Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress the title character keeps herself busy trying to support her mother and brother in a small Alabama town. She's a mistress to six men - each one knows nothing about the others. Each man leaves her a little something after their evening is done. And Georgia has another on-going money making scheme. The problem is that Georgia's carefully planned way of life is threatening to fall apart.

Despite the fact that it does have some funny moments, Georgia Bottoms is not hilarious. Although I was interested in seeing her through her various predicaments, Georgia is a shallow and self-centered character. I never felt she was this loveable, quirky character full of Southern charm. Additionally, there are parts that could very easily even be offensive to some readers. Examples include Georgia's feelings about religion, her taking advantage of one group of women for profit, the use of the "N" word, the racism, and Georgia's annoyance that 9/11 precludes her ladies luncheon.

Perhaps it is because I'm not at all familiar with small Southern towns, but I actually found it hard to believe this novel was set in recent time, especially with the racism. It felt like it was set earlier. Georgia Bottoms is a quick, easy, and entertaining novel - amusing, but basically forgettable. I do think that Childress is a good writer, which helped elevate the novel to Recommended status for me.

Disclosure: My copy was sent to me by the publisher after I won a giveaway.


If only Eugene didn't run on so long in his sermons, Georgia thought, a person might not have time to think about how hot it was in this church. opening

She never missed a Sunday in church. There had to be other doubters in the crowd, but Georgia was fairly certain she was the only one who attended every Sunday without believing a single word of it... pg. 6

Members of Georgia's family had sat in this pew for generations, since before her grandmother Big Sue changed the family name from Butts to Bottoms because she thought it sounded more genteel, pg. 7

Eugene in bed was much like Eugene in the pulpit: earnest, sincerely grateful for your attendance, but always wandering off down these unproductive side alleys. pg. 9

She saw how it was going to go. Eugene meant to confess his infidelity right here in front of God and everybody. In front of Brenda and his lovely daughters and the congregation....
What he didn't realize was that he was risking much more than Georgia's reputation. One word could ruin a lot more than that. pg. 12

Georgia made sure she was well into the aisle, clear of the pews on both sides. She didn't want to get hurt. Her eyelids fluttered. Her gaze turned upward. all the muscles in her body went limp. She collapsed into a heap on the carpet - a most convincing and ladylike faint. pg. 13

To Georgia, the silliest argument of all was this endless wrestling match over race. As far back as she could remember, everyone in Alabama had been re-fighting the Civil War, a hundred forty years later. Someone was always trying to send the black man back into slavery, or raise him up higher than he was ready to go. To Georgia, the solution seemed simple: Everybody just forget about it. White people, get used to it. Black people, stop dwelling on it. Let's just pretend we're equal, and get on with our lives. pg. 30

Each man thought he was the only one. That was essential to Georgia's arrangement. She never let herself get cavalier about the details. Only by observing strict rules of separation was she able to keep all these plates spinning on sticks.
It wasn't just for herself that she was doing this. It was for Little Mama, who'd had three husbands but never one who left her a nickel... and for useless Brother... but mainly for someone who waited for a sum of money every fourth Saturday at the Western Union, Poydras Street, New Orleans.
An old debt Georgia was still paying down. pg 38-39

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