The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life

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"Marking the debut of a powerfully original Southern voice, The Cracker Queen begins with the childhood experiences and adventures of Lauretta Hannon in backwater Warner Robins. Her mama and jazz musician daddy have a deep and disorderly love with years of booze, infidelities, and nervous breakdowns, but through it all she feels cherished. The stories of her deeply dysfunctional family include chain gangs, guns, ghost hunting, moonshine stands, scooterpootin', the famous Goat Man of Georgia, and Crazy Aunt Carrie who is arrested for assaulting a
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The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life

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Overview

"Marking the debut of a powerfully original Southern voice, The Cracker Queen begins with the childhood experiences and adventures of Lauretta Hannon in backwater Warner Robins. Her mama and jazz musician daddy have a deep and disorderly love with years of booze, infidelities, and nervous breakdowns, but through it all she feels cherished. The stories of her deeply dysfunctional family include chain gangs, guns, ghost hunting, moonshine stands, scooterpootin', the famous Goat Man of Georgia, and Crazy Aunt Carrie who is arrested for assaulting a police dog. The early years of hardship and hard living all gave Hannon the resilience and humor that are now the hallmarks of her Cracker Queen way of life." From Warner Robins she moves to Savannah's most eccentric neighborhoods and lives among its lively crew of hellions, heroines, bad seeds, thugs, and renegades, including a lady who keeps the Baby Jesus chained up in her front yard, a woman who looks like a rutabaga, and the root doctor that works a hoodoo on her.
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Editorial Reviews

Savannah Morning News

Hannon's stories move from country-hick hilarious to poignant and touching.

White County News

Lauretta's hilarious depictions of Steel Magnolias everywhere provide perfect proof that the best storyteller—and characters—in the South are women.

Library Journal

As Hannon, a contributor to NPR's All Things Considered, writes of her impoverished childhood in a dysfunctional family in Georgia, her college experiences, and a career in marketing, she touts the core values of love, forgiveness, and gratitude that helped her make her way; she also writes that one needs to conquer fear and whup some ass. Despite the soundness of the values she espouses, the hard-luck story she relates here is nothing more than a series of sound bites-she jumps from one incident to another without much cohesion or continuity, e.g., one chapter starts and ends with Hannon buying school clothes but takes unrelated detours in between. There are some fun chapters on haints(the Southern term for ghosts), but the book feels more like a marketing tool for Hannon than a memoir of substance. Not recommended.
—Gina Kaiser

Kirkus Reviews
NPR commentator Hannon explains why "hardship and hard living are great enhancers.""Nonsmokers, Yankees, professors and even men" can also be Cracker Queens, she avers, so long as they live by this dictum: "I have a choice in how I see and react to things. I can choose to accept whatever comes at me with love and gratitude. I don't have to be oppressed-or anyone's victim. I can live large even if I'm huddling in a hovel." Given this premise, it's not surprising that the author recounts a difficult youth of scant means dominated by an alcoholic, mentally ill mother and a much-loved father she saw only on weekends and holidays. Entitlement is not an issue here, and Hannon hails the power of laughter as the iron lung of life. Nonetheless, she frequently wrings the heart with her portrait of a home life ever on the verge of combusting, periodically igniting into mayhem. Crazy relatives came by the bucketful, and the author draws a careful line between complete losers ("Scooter was the nastiest waste of protoplasm that ever walked the earth") and those whose weaknesses are evidence of their humanity. Her uncanny emotional balance allows her to extract nuggets of goodness from a mother with a lavish soul but a lot of problems, and from her Savannah, Ga., neighborhood, so crime-ridden that the local old men formed a "Geriatric Militia" armed with .45s and .38s. Life is short, so why be tasteful, she asks. Isn't it better to be fearless, authentic and have a sense of humor? Wouldn't you prefer love, forgiveness, thankfulness and purpose? These are not merely palliatives for Hannnon, but daily considerations. A bracing, heart-gladdening embrace of human foibles and strangeness. Agent: JoanneWyckoff/Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592404506
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/16/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 5.92 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauretta Hannon

Lauretta Hannon is a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and Georgia Public Radio’s Georgia Gazette, and has contributed to numerous newspapers. Winner of more than two hundred awards in marketing and promotions, she is the marketing director at Atlanta Technical College.

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Table of Contents

Introduction … Everything You Need to Know I Learned Inside a Singlewide 1

Part 1 Comin' Up the Hard Way

The Indian Princess 7

Jazz Daddy 9

Four Roses 13

Bad Blood 17

War Town 20

Mama and the Chain Gang 24

Discord 26

Underwater Grace 31

Skateland 34

Goat Power 40

Breakdown 42

Strawberry Dress 48

Wrongsville 54

Blue-Light Terror 59

Crazy Aunt Carrie 67

Blue Christians 70

Ridin' High and Shirtless 74

300 Minutes 80

Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book 84

Part 2 God Save the Queen (from Herself)

The Tree That Owns Itself 93

Winged Skeletons 96

Wez-lee-an 101

Gutters and Stars 103

Way South of Normal 105

It's Vacuous at the Top 112

You Put a Root on Me 116

Pinkie's Is Closed on Sundays! 123

Miss Vassie Thompson Has a Spare Room for an Elderly Person 129

Cordell 134

Bad Day at Work 137

Scooterpootin' 144

We Mean You No Harm 155

Artifice 165

Part 3 The way of the Cracker Queen

The Regal Essentials 177

The Royal Necessities 188

Adjust That Crown, Your Horns Are Showing 193

Majestic Distinctions 200

What Becomes a Cracker Queen Most 214

Acknowledgments 223

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2009

    MUST READ THIS WITTY, WISE MEMOIR!!

    In Lauretta Hannon's exceptionally well-written memoir, she shares her bittersweet story of growing up destitute amid familial chaos in backcountry Georgia. Despite parental drunken fights, her mother's mental collapse, and a life of hardship, Ms. Hannon perseveres and innately realizes that how she lives her life is a choice. As her eccentric life unfolds, she chooses to respond to life's challenges and obstacles with love, gratitude and a big dose of humor. In the course of time. she forms and elaborates upon her list of 'core values'. Ms. Hannon brilliantly tells her story in a delightfully folksy style that thoroughly captivated me from page 1. I really, truly loved this wonderfully engaging book for the homespun humor and uplifting wisdom it expresses and therefore, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!!

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  • Posted April 16, 2009

    Inspirational and bend over funny

    Just finished this book.
    A touching story peppered with laughs. I cried,laughed and cheered. Sometime all at once.
    I was familiar with Ms. Hannon's tales on National Public Radio but never suspected the story behind them.
    Shows us that women are Amazing creatures, strong and tough.
    We can overcome most anything and The Cracker Queen does.

    Love it, give us more!

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    Posted August 5, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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