I received my copy of Cooper’s essays free and early, thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press. Her prose is clear, articulate, and full of fire.
Had I read my post-Trayvon civil rights titles in a different sequence, I might very well have called this a five star collection. However, I read Samantha Irby, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Davis, and Matt Taibbi first, and so the bar was set somewhere in the stratosphere when I opened this galley. I wanted Cooper’s viewpoints to be accompanied by some hard facts, complete with citations. However, for those looking to have their world view clarified and their consciousness raised, Cooper’s collection is recommended.
If I had to whittle several decades of reading down to thirty favorite books, this one would make the cut. It is wonderful on so many levels. Flagg has published a number of glorious, whimsical yet not shallow novels, always set in the deep South. This one is the jewel in her literary crown.
Have you seen the movie? If you have, this book may be easier for you to read. I read it, and absolutely (as you can see) loved it. The issue for other readers I’ve talked to is that the book hops back and forth in terms of setting, including time period, and it doesn’t provide an obvious heads-up that this is what is happening.
There are two stories being told, one that of a contemporary woman who is unhappy with her life, menopausal and fearful that she is losing her husband’s attention, bored and feeling worthless. She is spending part of her weekend at a nursing home where her husband’s wife resides, but the woman hates her and won’t let her in the room. It is in the lobby where she is faithfully stationed, downing the candy stash from her purse for comfort, that she meets one of the home’s residents, who tells her pieces of her life story, a little more each visit. But in the book, we are taken back in time in other ways. Suddenly we are reading a small town newspaper, and if you are a person who skips chapter headings, you’re likely to find yourself entirely confused.
I won’t give away more of the plot, but for the time in which it was written, this novel bravely took up one progressive (IMHO) cause about which not much was being written. It’s very subtle. Other parts of the story will leave you laughing so hard that you either can’t catch your breath, or if you are old enough, you may not hang onto…something else.