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Publishers WeeklyIn her latest, shrimper and memoirist Wilson (An Unreasonable Woman) unspools the tale of her 1950s small-town upbringing along the Gulf Coast of Texas, the daughter of third-generation shrimpers. As in her first book, Wilson writes with a stylized cadence, sans extraneous punctuation, that readers will either take to or not: "Grandma ate Fritos in a glass of buttermilk for dinner and supper and that plus giving the radio evangelist all her shrimp-heading money was driving two of her daughters batty and two not so much." Her father, "a man's man who didn't talk unnecessarily to women," and is always off shrimping, leaves her to be raised by her eccentric mother and grandmother ("the original Waste Not Want Not-er... nothing was so low that it didn't get cooked into something else"), who nevertheless imbue her with strong, transcendent values. Meanwhile, a cast of characters that includes her Pentecostal Aunt Silver ("Pentecostals had faith and faith was the absence of planning") and a snake-handling Brother Dynamite lead her through a clash between the Church of Jesus Loves You and an upstart backwoods congregation. Wilson's distinctive voice makes for some whip-smart passages, and her southern Gothic world, a colorful and unpredictable place, is fully identifiable in its commitment to vice-tight family love and responsibility to some higher power.
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