I was a bit depressed yesterday/today, so did what works best for such occasions: I reread (for maybe the 20th time or more) Linda Bloodworth Thomason’s Liberating Paris.
There are many, many books I reread on a regular basis, so this is not the only one. Some are classics that make me feel part of some special club for doing so – nearly all the Pat Conroy, Lee Smith, Clyde Edgerton books, the obvious givens like To Kill A Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the one-best of Faulkner, Larry Brown, and others. This book, though southern in nature, is not really in the same class with the others, after all, it’s written by a television writer. Though I guess I may have read it more than any of the others (exception: The Water Is Wide, which I reread the week before school started for 28 years of teaching!) yet it’s been hard for me to brag about how wonderful it is in an open forum. There are no reprints in college lit texts or The Oxford American. There are no cliff note-like pamphlets with titles like “Understanding Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. None of her characters are used as icons for modern day Shakespearean characters. But I’m ready to admit it: It looks like this may be the Bible of southern novels for ME.
Yes, I love Designing Women, Thomason’s television claim-to-fame, and was tickled pink when, during it’s heyday on Primetime, friends in three separate states told me Mary Jo’s personality reminded them of ME. But Paris is MORE than Designing Women in that its intensity, its real-life situations, its uniquely flawed characters make what she refers to as this “Wagnerian hillbilly nightmare” that perpetrates my brain a have a beauty and literary worth that stand both alone and with all those classics I dearly love.
I can say it now, and apologize for “going all-Elizabeth-Barrett-Browning on ya” as Thomason’s Earl Brundage would say. Rereading this book makes me whole again, though I must be pretty Humpty-Dumpty-like to read it so often. We all “can’t help feeling a little let down–like men who once walked on the moon and are now stuck in traffic.” And if we’re lucky enough to find a formula that works, we should use it. And I will.
That’s about all I have to say on this strange and underrated subject. Anyone else out there have a thought to share on this amazing gem of a book? I’d love to hear (though if you just wanna dis, I’ll probably do the southernly polite thing and ignore you.)
This is my favorite book, and I don’t care who knows it. It’s kind of liberating, just to finally say it for the world to hear.
At a pivotal moment, Thomason explains such an idea with heartfelt simplicity.
” …Yes. I support this. This is who I am…[and I] wanted, finally and gloriously, to be known.”
Enough said. Your turn?