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This sexy, breathless novel of lives in uncontrollable overdrive is from the author of Snow Angels and The Names of the Dead--one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists. 256 pp. 1,500 print.
On death row in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, on the very night of her execution, Marjorie Standiford is busy with her tape recorder. Last-minute appeal? Last Will and Testament? A farewell letter? No, nothing like that. Marjorie is making notes for Stephen King, who has decided to write a book about her. Apparently Marjorie is a very hot ticket: Natalie, her partner in crime, has already published a bestseller about the twosome's life on the road as bandits and serial killers. But Marjorie has become a Christian since her arrest, you see, and is now worried about her image. "Sometimes in your books you make fun of religious people. You make them crazy or evil, like in Children of the Corn or Needful Things. I'd appreciate it if you didn't this once. Just make me the way I am." So Marjorie proceeds to tell Stephen the whole sad story, from white-trash childhood to pothead adolescence to marriage with speed-freak Lamont on to her eventual discovery of bisexuality with roommate Natalie. Eventually those three set up shop as drug dealers and are quickly successful. When they find the cash from their big haul stolen, however, they turn to outright theft, murdering an old farmer and his wife in the process. From that point on, their fate is basically sealed: They take to the road, barrelling down Route 66 to the border, knocking off a restaurant and several of its customers before getting caught. As much as Marjorie regrets all the mess, she knows it makes a great story.
Stretching the credible and highly pretentious: O'Nan's portrait of a redneck who watches Monty Python and works out book treatments on her deathbed would be merely bizarre if she were just a character. Unfortunately, she's the entire story.
Leo's has Pepsi. You'd be amazed how few places do. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's--that's all Coke. Burger King used to be Pepsi but they changed. They must have gotten a better deal or something. Sonic's interesting because it's half and half; it's up to the owner. Which do you like better?
I've never had Jolt, but Darcy says it's amazing. I would have ordered it if I could.
Q: What is your favorite gas station food?
A: Jalapeño chili cheese fries.
Q: Can you separate yourself from the writer in you, or are you one in the same? If so, how do the two of you differ?
A: The writer is a more generous person.
Q: Will you describe your favorite pair of shoes?
A: Clunky and steeltoed.
Q: Is there a bumper sticker that stands out in your memory?
A: Cruise sonic.
Q: Who is your favorite fictional character of all time?
A: Quentin Compson.
Q: Of all the books you have read, which have been the most influential in your own writing?
A: To the Lighthouse -- Virginia Woolf, The Stories of Chekhov, and The Stories of Flannery O'Connor.
Q: I read that you wrote Speed Queen in 66 days while traveling down Route 66...did you bring along a laptop, or write freehand...logistically, how did you do it?
A: Laptop, in a bathrobe. Faster, faster, faster.
Posted June 2, 2008
A woman is using a tape recorder to tell her side of the story regarding several murders. She has sold the rights to her story to a famous novelist 'who is revealed early on in the book' to earn some money for the son she will leave behind when she is executed. The author does an excellent job taking you from present day to the past...before and after the crimes. There is a human side to this woman and part of you really wants to believe she had nothing to do with such a horrible act. You find yourself liking her and cheering her on early on in her life, but then you read her side of the story as she makes a series of choices that will effect so many people and change so many lives. In the end, the question remains...does she really take much if any responsibility for the crimes she is on death row for?
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Posted April 20, 2011
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