Red Clay, Blue Cadillac: Stories of Twelve Southern Women


Twelve short stories of all the wrong women.

The author of First Lady and Handling Sin has given us a page turning collection of short stories, with a central theme in each of which the main character is a belle of the South whose talents include a penchant for deceit, betrayal, seduction and sometimes murder. Written in the author's wry and masterful voice, these evocative stories are infused with all the peculiar customs, ironies and humor so...

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Twelve short stories of all the wrong women.

The author of First Lady and Handling Sin has given us a page turning collection of short stories, with a central theme in each of which the main character is a belle of the South whose talents include a penchant for deceit, betrayal, seduction and sometimes murder. Written in the author's wry and masterful voice, these evocative stories are infused with all the peculiar customs, ironies and humor so special to the South.

The twelve stories in this collection include "Red Clay," which won an Edgar Allen Poe Award, in which a local girl from Thermopylae becomes a movie star who moves back to her sleepy North Carolina home town and is tried for murdering her unfaithful husband. Her trial causes the town and one man in particular to look back with longing and nostalgia at this exquisite Southern belle who captivated-and sometimes manipulated-every man she met.

"Fast Love," the recipient of an O. Henry Award, is the story of a man who chases down his future wife after seeing her jog past. As he gets closer to his quarry, he also gains the courage to stand up for what he wants and to champion what he believes.

In "Blue Cadillac," Marie, blonde and beautiful, shares dinner and her love of Elvis with a high-tech sales rep on his way home to Memphis. Along the way and on the road, they have exquisite sex and decide to part, Marie in her blue Cadillac. As he rings the bell at his mother's house, the young man discovers that he has been robbed of his wallet and his whole life on cards.

Self-contained masterpieces, each of these short stories has the impact and power of a full-length novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The first four selections in this collection of 12 stories are so sterling in their style and structure, so well crafted, captivating and entertaining, that the reader wants to slow down and savor their authentic voices and characterizations, qualities that have led Malone to major writing awards (the Edgar, the O. Henry). Of these, the best is "Marie," an account of a blonde beauty's casual seduction and robbery of a foolish high-tech sales rep, but it is closely rivaled by "Stella," which in its time-spanning tale of unrequited and unquestioning love and loyalty recalls the romantic power of stories by Richard Yates and the darker gothic elements of Katherine Anne Porter. The awkwardly rendered "Lucy" is a brief stumble, but Malone recovers in the next selection, "Flonnie," a poignant and powerful examination of contemporary Southern race relations. The next piece, "Patty," a pedestrian, overlong murder mystery, begins the collection's steady descent into the mundane and clich d, as Malone fumbles for plot development and original character through the remaining tales, of which only "Mona" stands out. Each of the better stories provides a disquieting look at familiar themes, and each is marked by a writing style fresh with surprising twists and turns of phrase and Malone's remarkable insight into the human condition. Only when Malone becomes heavy-handed does his workmanship overwhelm and tread upon his art. Overall, the collection is more than worthwhile, including some of the best stories to come out of the South in years, but its unevenness betrays the whole. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran novelist Malone offers a heady mix of love, marriage, and murder in a dozen southern-themed stories old and new. Fans of Malone's Cudberth Mangum novels (First Lady, 2001, etc.) will find enough old-fashioned whodunits to justify Malone's dedication to longtime mystery impresario Otto Penzler. In "Love and Other Crimes," Cuddy, the no-nonsense police chief of Hillston, South Carolina, investigates the death of fourth husband Wilson (Dink) Tedworth at the fifth wedding of Patty Raiford, a femme so fatale that a frat-boy from Haver University once fought a duel over her with a West Point cadet. "Invitation to the Ball" offers a Cuddy-less murder plot to unravel, complete with a con game that spans four generations. But some of the best stories in the volume are altogether crime-free. "The Rising of the South and Flonnie Rogers," for example, is a moving portrait of a black woman who arrives out of nowhere one day "to start a job no one had realized they were offering her" with a white family in the sleepy town of Thermopylae and stays to raise their nine children and who knows how many grandchildren. Or "Fast Love," the story of Blake Wintrip, who forsakes his legacy as heir to Wintrip Motors of Toomis to become a social work field coordinator and marry beautiful red-haired Meredith Krantzsky. Some even combine the best of both worlds, like "White Trash Noir," the story of simple, literal-minded Charmain Luby Markell, whose murder trial shows how goodness trumps brains every time, and the title story, in which beautiful Stella Doyle is acquitted of a murder that haunts her for the rest of her life. These thematically interwoven tales of 12 southern women end up giving a penetratinglook into the values and mores of the New South.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570718243
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,004,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Malone

Michael Malone is the author of nine novels and two works of nonfiction. Educated at Carolina and at Harvard, he has taught at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Swarthmore. Among his prizes are the Edgar, the O. Henry, the Writers Guild Award, and the Emmy. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, with his wife, chair of the English department at Duke University.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hillsborough, North Carolina
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University; Ph.D. in English, Harvard University

Table of Contents

Stella "Red Clay"
Marie "Blue Cadillac"
Precious "Winners and Losers"
Charmain "White Trash Noir"
Lucy "Maniac Loose"
Flonnie "The Rising of the South and Flonnie Rogers"
Patty "Love and Other Crimes"
Meredith "Fast Love"
Angie "The Power"
Mona "Miss Mona's Bank"
Betty "A Deer on the Lawn"
Mattie "Invitation to the Ball"

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