by Karen White, contemporary (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7339-9
On the bright side, while Karen White comes off like a rabid redneck caricature given free rein to indulge her parochia in her inauspicious contemporary debut Falling Home (where the entire world outside Walton, Georgia, also known as Redneck's Arse if you ask me, is demonized), she has restrained herself. In After The Rain, Karen White's Holy Righteous Fury of a Quivering Evangelist Tent is directed only at the transvestite-overrun corrupt and heinous people of Atlanta. Yes, Atlanta, the Middle Finger Of The Confederate God is pointing at you and He is speaking through Karen White: "Repent, you sinners!"
Suzanne Paris is a career woman - a photographer - who, directed by a opossum about to be squashed by cars (don't ask), steps down from her bus to come upon Redneck's Arse. There, she encounters six kids of the mayor Joe Warner, and it's love at first sight, down with feminism, motherhood is in, Atlanta must burn, and the Devil must be at work the day those evil Yankees win that goddamned war. Oh yes, don't try to look too hard for the enemies of Joe, the mayor. Look under "Atlantan" and you'll see "Villains! Cheating scumminy materialistic villains! Karen White and the Spirit of the Confederate Uncle Jeb Ghosts all Own you!"
Suzanne is not a realistic character. She is merely a cipher, a tool for the author to preach about home, hearth, and how women emphasizing career instead of becoming child brides to Ozarkians - well, these women will end up bitter, cold, and old. Joe is a cipher. He is the Reward for Women Who Realize The Right Way To Live - having a husband and six stepkids to chase after are all a woman with Pure and Holy Uterus need to be happy in life. The people of Redneck's Arse are creepy - they are violently hostile to outsiders and demanding to know Suzanne's life story the moment she steps foot into town. Ms White thinks this is a good thing.
This book's dialogues run gamut from Kinkade on Crack to materials lifted from Greg Laurie's Greatest Speech collections. From the opossum to Suzanne's Premonition of God (she sees herself as a housewife holding a baby and is struck by the beauty of that premonition) to Joe telling his repentant teenage harlot daughter to reach inside as far as she can (not that way!) and come home when she feels more like a bug than a windscreen, this book is filled with Very Important and not at all subtle Meaningful Scenes I'm sure I'm supposed to digest and ponder over. Will I look good in a pair of thongs?
Of course, it is very easy to mock this book mercilessly, as Ms White really sets herself up for it with her overbearing evangelistic style of writing, but it is also quite depressing because the author really can write. Some of the few scenes here that are left uncluttered by contrived right-wing preachiness are quite lovely to read, such as Joe's insecurities regarding his trying to raise his teenaged kids right and proper. Unfortunately, Ms White is more intent on preaching than telling a story, and the unfortunate punchline is, her preaching really sucks and is laughable to boot. She won't be winning converts, that's for sure. Her book just comes off like crackpot material, making even those ghostwritten Thomas Kinkade books come off as subtle and elegant in comparison.
Now, can someone tell me what happened to the author who wrote two very readable paranormal books for LoveSpell?
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