Morning After Regrets

So, I’ve been reading less because I REALLY need to do the final push on Darkship Revenge, a) before something else goes wrong with my body b) so that my publisher doesn’t kill me.

But I’ve still been reading, because, well, one needs to go to the bathroom, and read something (even if just a couple of pages) before going to sleep.

Mostly I’m reading from KULL both because until I turn books in we’re semi broke (not broke/broke, but being careful) and because, well, I am not paying close attention to the books.  Not right now.

Because books are from KULL, it is easy to start reading and then put it down without thought, and move on to another one.

I’ve done a post on MGC on Wednesday about stopping points.  This post is about how I didn’t stop, even though the book’s worldbuilding makes as much sense as American Rednecks drinking gin and pounding hapless paleontologists.

But I do have morning after regrets, and a sort of nauseous feeling I did something awful.

This post is to explain both the mistakes, and why the book seduced me.  If we’re going to break the stranglehold of the left, it is important to know how to keep people who disagree with us (or in this case who think this is from another universe) reading.

As a side note, this book is not self published, but put out through an Amazon imprint, which just shows you the new forms quickly get like the last.

So, first the sin count and why they’re sins:

The South is so exotic, it’s another planet covers most of these sins.  This pisses me off, as I’m fairly sure most Southerners are still human (my friends excepted.  They’re SUPER HUMAN) and also having lived in the South, yep, there are differences, but again, the basic rules of life end up being the same.

1- The entire book hinges on four generations of a family being put in a madhouse and killed there.  The most recent one escapes.

This is present day, and she’s supposed to be involuntarily committed to a mad house and disappear.

Oh, hum.  Yeah, sure thing, Bob.  Beyond impossible now.  But let’s get back to that, “involuntarily committed for generations, then killed there” and no one ever got curious, and the family is still political and really big.  Uh uh.  It’s also implied the family is (of course) conservative.  Apparently these people haven’t met our press.

Anyway, there is an explanation for this.  It’s stupid.  Moving right along.

(On a side note, I ran across this while reading a book on — of all things — Porto.  There was some home for upper class emotionally disturbed women that operated in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  I’m okay with the idea parents and husbands used this to get rid of inconvenient women (not kill them, but put them away) SOMETIMES.  I’m even okay with the idea that things we consider pretty normal were insanity in those days, like, you know, consistently talking back.

It’s the assumption that it was ALWAYS used to get rid of rebels and perfectly sane women that gets under my skin.

[Let’s unpack this, shall we: So women never get unstable, or are a danger to themselves and others?

So, you’re saying that in a more rigid society, being completely outrageous shouldn’t get you put away?  You’ve never lived in a traditional society if you don’t get that achieving outrageous behavior means something has already gone seriously wrong.  Well behaved women might not make history, but crazy-behaving women and men simply don’t survive in REALLY traditional societies.  Look to the middle east if you have doubts.

Also, there were the same type of limits on men as on women. SURE different limits.  But men could get put away just as easily by acting outside society’s norms.

This is probably the subject for another post, but in our anything-goes society it’s hard to picture that one already needs to be wrong in the head to let one’s freak flag fly.  And yet, it’s true.

I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying it happens in different cultures — I’m also not sure that our “no madhouse, let homeless people widdle on themselves and talk to invisible people on street corners” is more compassionate, but that’s something else — and that the stupid assumption that a madhouse for women or a woman sent to any madhouse is just “brave feminists being oppressed” is idiotic and provincial.  Mrs. Lincoln might have been a “brave feminist” — she wasn’t — but you can’t avoid realizing, if you read primary sources, that she was nuttier than a fruitcake. Possibly for one of the many reasons that made madness among women more common in the past: lack of hormonal therapy, frequent miscarriages, frequent emotional shocks with children’s deaths and in general a far HARDER life than our feminist flowers can even imagine, much less endure.]

Beyond all that, again, two/three generations in a row dying in a madhouse, in a political (particularly a conservative) family, the press would be all over that like flies on sh*t.)

2- The plot only hangs together, to the extent it does, because all the police in Alabama are in the pocket of the kkk.  Yep, still.  Because “in Alabama these things never go away” or some such bullshit.

Let me put it right here, right now, that yep, the KKK had a lot of power in some places, 20s and 30s.  The elementary school my kids attended (In Colorado) has a cornerstone stating the building was donated by the KKK.  When I attended my older son’s college graduation, the dean read a letter about how when the KKK controlled state government, they tried to get the college to kick out “all Jews and Catholics” and when that didn’t work they cut funding to the college.  The letter he read was the dean’s response, and it amounted to “Dear KKK influenced state government, these are my middle fingers.”  Only it was much more polite and beautiful than that, because the dean wasn’t me.

So I know the KKK was, historically, a force to be reckoned with.  Historically.  Right now they are a dying and tiny movement, no matter how much the left keeps trying to resurrect them.  (They were a leftist movement anyway.)  The idea they have that kind of influence in Alabama amounts to thinking the south is a place like in that story of rednecks drinking gin and beating on paleontologists because… no reason.

This is the South as seen from NYC.

3- Continuing with the South as seen from NYC: a not inconsequential part of the plot hinges on some girl having climbed a water tower naked (in the thirties) claiming her brother was sleeping with her and she was pregnant.  When she threw herself down, she only broke an ankle (let it go) and was confined to the madhouse, where they kept the baby after she was born because… cheese.

Okay a) It is NOT normal, in the South, even in isolated communities for brothers and sisters to sleep together.  That’s a calumny put about by pseudo cosmopolitan idiots.  b) I think it’s based on the fact that in isolated communities cousin marriage is tolerated, whatever the law says, because, isolated.  Some idiot made a joke about incest, and the pseudo cosmopolitan idiots swallowed it hook line and sinker and have been propagating it forever.  c) it happens.  It happens in all human tribes from isolated mountain communities to the pseudo-cosmopolitan-enclaves.  It just happens.  RARELY.  d) when it does happen, the traditional communities are much better at dealing with it than the big cities.  (Terry Pratchett whose environment in childhood seemed to be much like mine had it right about the “rough music”.) Yeah, in a big city, in relatively affluent circles, I could see finding a way to put the girl and the baby away and never talk about this again, while the brother went on to probably do it again.  In a traditional community?  Oh, hell no.  Everyone knows everyone else’s business and trust this woman who grew in such a community (and one arguably more patriarchal than anywhere in America) something very bad would have happened to that brother, while the girl would have been allowed to forget or pretend that it had just been a traveling salesman.  Or more likely someone would have taken the baby to raise (usually a distant relative) and it wouldn’t have been mentioned again how that baby was conceived.  But that guy, if he didn’t get away and stay away?  He’d have suffered a mysterious accident, or committed suicide by beating himself to death with a half brick.

You see, traditional communities are already relatively inbred by force of circumstances.  They can’t afford to let this kind of thing happen.  No, they are not geneticists, but they have the traditions of generations.  And whatever feminists think, it’s usually the guy who pays in this case.  (And in most cases of this sort, it is the guy who should.  Though, yeah, there are exceptions and we know some historical ones, where it was mutual consent)

4- We are in the head of an unreliable narrator, a woman just out of treatment for drug addiction, who keeps stealing pills and putting them in her purse (although she doesn’t take them) but we’re supposed to believe her version of the story in a murder mystery.  Sure, it can be done, but in this case given the other problems of the book, I’m still working out how all this could be her insanity.

5- Women in the south so crazy!  This is another of the “sins against flyover country”.  While I’ll admit that the South like Portugal has a tradition of “romantic crazy” in which very smart or misunderstood geniuses are supposed to be a little nuts, it’s still too much to expect us to treat as perfectly normal that the main character sees things.

6- Her brother alternates between sounding like a more or less reasonable, occasionally unpleasant politician and trying to kill her.  0 to murder in ten seconds.  And we’re supposed to buy this character, and that he functions well enough to be in politics.  Also, that during an active political campaign, NO ONE WOULD BE TRACKING HIM WITH CAMERAS.

7- Oh, yeah, even though she identifies at least the family of the most recent murdered girl as being Catholic, the book keeps talking about how she was a snake handler with a crazy evangelical sect.  Even though a Latin Catholic prayer has been passed down through generations of the family, one of the boys is in the KKK — in fact, the author seems QUITE unaware that the KKK targeted Catholics as much as black people — and in the whole, I’m forced to assume this person thinks that the Catholic church and one of the snake-handling evangelical churches are one and the same.  This is at best really bad editing and at worst completely delusional ignorance by someone so far from religious belief as not to realize there are SECTS and different branches of Christianity.

Proceeding from those kicks to reality, there are about a dozen minor ones.  And yet, I read the book.

So, why did I read it?

1-It starts with an intriguing title.  This book is called Burying the Honeysuckle Girls.  I was going to download and read at least a sample, given that title.
Let’s dissect it, shall we: Burying: perfect for a mystery cue.  Honeysuckle — brings with it a sensory load of sense and taste. Girls — signals women in peril, which is a subset of thrillers.  Honeysuckle-girls together projects an ethereal fragrant image.

It’s a seductive title.

Compare that to a mystery title for a mystery and did download but read only a few pages, because the language is clunky, and the name of the detective distracting:

The Heiress of Linn Hagh, the second book in the Detective Lavender series.  The title is completely non-alluring and not descriptive.  Heiress does not signal murder mystery. Linn Hagh is a bad-sounding combination.  And detective Lavender sounds like it should either be a gay mystery or a Chinese mystery.

I am not disparaging that last.  While the story threw me out, it apparently appeals to many people, as it sells well and has excellent reviews. (Good for them) but even one hint of bad world building in the first page and I’d put the book back, since it doesn’t seduce me, and the title promises nothing special.

2- The first person voice is convincing and lyrical.  We’re in the head of a woman recovering from addiction and just released from a half way house, and she feels “real”.  The character is there, present, and even when she does crazy shit like steal pills, you want to believe her, and you sympathize with her.

3- The stupidity comes on slowly.  In the first chapter her family seems fairly normal.  The strangeness between the Catholic church and the snake handling evangelical church is not evident till almost the last chapter.

4- In the first few chapters the family dynamics make sense and are heart-wrenching: the father dying of Alzheimers, the sister in law who wants to believe the girl is recovered from her issues, the brother who gives her the benefit of the doubt, and all along, the woman who is unreliable and somewhat unstable.

As part of this they turn on her too fast and somewhat unconvincingly, but I kept reading because, well, she had an history, maybe they had a reason, etc. (Turns out no, the entire family behaves like they’re bipolar, all through the book.)

We don’t find out till the middle of the book that the misfit-love-interest is working for her brother.  BTW from that point on he’s not fully convincing, and her getting together to him in the end is oh, um.

3- Though the plot conclusion is not satisfactory, the clues laid out, etc, are intriguing.  You only realize the idea of all these murders isn’t believable AFTER you’re done reading.  So, fast-moving, intriguing narration and intriguing clues will keep you reading, because you think there will be a pay off.

4- While there is obviously feminist stupidity in this book, the writer herself might not realize it’s there.  It’s deep laid beliefs in things like women could just be put in a madhouse and no one would ask questions.  Or murders in a little town aren’t talked about. Or these men FROM OUTSIDE THE FAMILY who kept marrying the girls in the family, all connived in their murders and never protested I guess because all men naturally want to murder all women.  BUT IT WAS NEVER STATED UPFRONT, it was buried in the text, and thus it never came up and smacked you in the face while you were reading.  It only did so afterwards. By the time you realize how preposterous it is, you’re done reading the book.

So, in conclusion, if you’re selling a world view, it’s probably best if you’re going to sell a point of view, if it’s so deeply laid-in that you don’t know it’s there.  However, if you don’t have that, at least try to hide it in the plot and the playing out of the story.  Hint, to you it will feel like you’re not putting any message in at all, because these are the things you believe.

A good or at least fast paced story will hide a multitude of errors, and a lot of sins and keep the reader reading.

However if you want THIS reader to read your next one, and not to have morning-after regrets, doing a modicum of research helps.

Yes, I know, comedians, other books, and all the right people have assured you that the South is like this.  However, it helps to actually go and look and talk to the locals, or read biographies of people who grew up there and who aren’t trying to ingratiate themselves with the glitterati.  And if you grew up there (I honestly didn’t read the author’s bio) it helps if you get out of your circle of Yankee transplants and would-be sophisticates and talk to people you think are beneath you.  No, really.

Also on the “southern women so crazy”, I put up with the visions because I NORMALLY read fantasy, so I’m willing to take a bit of weirdness in my books.  BUT the author never explained why the voice character sees red ravens and streaks of gold.  I guess all Southern women are crazy or mystical or stuff.  (Maybe all women.  Maybe they psychically talk to plants.  Who knows.)  Which doesn’t help with morning-after regrets.

You guys know I never do a harsh review and name the book.  This is not a harsh review.  This is how despite defects (and they’re massive) the book kept me reading.  And it has the reviews and ranking to prove it kept a lot of people reading.

Go you and do likewise. Seduce the reader, even if she knows better.  Only you, do enough research, and make the plot tight enough to make sure she doesn’t regret it in the morning.

223 thoughts on “Morning After Regrets

  1. Well, I for one (as a southern man) have absolutely no interest in reading this book, no matter how well-written it might be. I’m afraid it wouldn’t pass the suspension-of-disbelief requirement for more than a few minutes.

    1. This is one I’d check out from a library to preventing lining pockets with my cash. I confess to a perverse itch to read the thing, for the same reason I read Tobacco Road.

  2. “So, in conclusion, if you’re selling a world view, it’s probably best if it’s so deeply laid-in that you don’t know it’s there. However, if you don’t have that, at least try to hide it in the plot and the playing out of the story. Hint, to you it will feel like you’re not putting any message in at all, because these are the things you believe.”

    I’m not sure how you came to this conclusion, Sarah. From your description of the book, it sounds as if 90% of the problem is that the author’s world view is indeed so deeply hidden that she doesn’t know it’s there; hence she never bothered to inform herself about Southern culture because she already “knows” all about it. And I betcha it does feel to her like she’s not pushing any message, because she thinks she’s just describing the world as it is.

    1. My conclusion is that I STILL READ it. because it felt authentic to the writer. I’m not saying it’s good, I’m saying that’s how to keep the reader reading.

    2. Sounds to me like all of her knowledge of the South came from watching a time To Kill when it came out 20 years ago.

      1. Better to read “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and take a long slow trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway.

        There’s a culture in the South, I’d say especially Appalachia since I am more familiar with it, that turns inward. The land drives that sort of culture, how it isolates communities from the outside world. The microclimates around here hold stable habitat islands with species that thrive only in that small area, bounded by (small, relatively) mountains or being the mountains themselves. In these communities you get that sort of living in everyone else’s pockets village effect that Sarah spoke of.

        It doesn’t surprise me that no one disabused the author of her error- at least not until post publication. I’d say there’s also that old saying around here that you don’t ruin a good story just because it ain’t true… *chuckle*

  3. I sadly note that you appear to have missed the most obvious explanation for this social structure, putting inconvenient women in madhouses and all: It’s the Patriarchy!

    The Patriarchy, like The Old Man of the Sea (hint hint), takes many forms to wreak its oppression. Certainly the Catholic Church, with its hierarchical descent from Il Papa, is an arm of the Patriarchy, and the KKK was always the militant arm of the Patriarchy, dedicated to keeping the lower orders in their place. (Any conflict between the Klan and the Church can be explained as internal conflict between competing factions of the Patriarchy thusly: waves hands furiously in various mystical gestures.)

    As for The South, I’ve seen it in Fifties movies like The Long Hot Summer and I’ve read dust jackets on William Faulkner and Eudora Welty, so I know all about the South.

    Having read H P Lovecraft I also hold forth as an expert on New England.

    1. “Any conflict between the Klan and the Church can be explained as internal conflict between competing factions of the Patriarchy”

      No, it’s a put-up job to fake out the women.

    2. Having read H P Lovecraft I also hold forth as an expert on New England.

      In that case you realize New England is much more inbred than the South even if we include all that alien DNA.

  4. The KKK began as a grass roots resistance to the abuse of yankee carpetbaggers determined to make the South pay for the war. The group morphed into the de facto militant arm of the Southern Democratic Party at which point it became ugly and evil.
    People tend to disremember that Abraham Lincoln was our first Republican president and that southern blacks seeking to gain full representation tended to favor that same party affiliation. How through deceit and treachery and outright rewriting of history the Democrats became the party of African Americans is a long and twisted story in itself.

    1. There have been several KKKs. The one of the 1920s and 1930s was formed in the wake of the Leo Frank lynching. I’m curious about this incarnation being “leftist.” My take was it was predominately racist from the get-go, with racism as the main factor.

        1. The ties between the Democrats and KKK predate the leftward shift of the Democratic party, and the vast majority of Republicans always opposed the KKK. At this point, I think it may just be inertia.

          1. But was it really much of a shift? Compare the Tulsa race riots and Ferguson.

            (Yeah, I know I’ve been throwing a big fuss over the GOP nominating the Democrat Trump, but I’ve also recently learned that Wendell Willkie was a Democrat.)

            1. No big shift…the Democrats have always been the party of segregation and racial supremacy. The only change is who is supposed to come out on top due to those polices.

              1. Yep. They’ve just gotten more shifty about it over the years. These days they holler loud and long about how everybody else (except themselves) are keeping the “insert color/race/sexual orientation/mental instability here” down. While at the same time, being the main force keeping said persons from lifting themselves up.

              2. Ehh . . . I think a better way to understand the DNC is Haiti. Haiti and the Nat Turner Rebellion underscored how slave states rode the tiger, and they knew it. From that perspective, a lot of things abruptly click together. About political power, to be sure, but also a great deal of fear of having your throat cut in your sleep. It doesn’t justify the suppression of black and Republican votes, but lets you understand the mindset of what was going on. And I think that fear and distrust is behind much of the policies they support today. They feared guns in the hands of blacks because they did not trust blacks; today they fear guns in the hands of all citizens because they do not trust citizens.

                When we talk about a group in a different era as “white supremacist,” the question to ask is compared to who? Even Lincoln sounds like a white supremacist to 21st Century ears. The past is another country and they do things differently there, and all that. Sure, there were – and are – racists in the DNC. Yet not all members of the DNC were – or are – more racist than the norm of their era.

        2. This is true. I used to enjoy messing with the heads of some, like when Andrew Young ran for the nomination of the Democrat candidate for Georgia governor. The Democrats of today tend not to mention how they welcomed back most of the old Dixiecrats with open arms.

          That KKK-Democrat connection doesn’t necessarily mean the current incarnation of the KKK started out leftist. I’m not saying it didn’t, only that the connection isn’t an indicator. For example, Eugene Talmadge was a Democrat who opposed FDR, and FDR had a low opinion of him. Yet there’s rumors than Talmadge was in cahoots with the KKK without being a member himself.

          Honestly, I’m not arguing the point, only wanting to compare notes.

          1. I think the South can best be characterized as having, not a leftist politics, but a conservative/aristocratic anti-capitalist politics: Conservative in the European sense of land, army, aristocracy, and established religion (though the South never seems to have leaned toward monarchy). I read about the Agrarian Movement and its influence on early twentieth century poetry back in the sixties.

            On the other hand, the KKK was not purely southern. They managed to get a law passed in Oregon in the 1920s that outlawed private schools—which was an overtly anti-Catholic measure. Then the Supreme Court had an attack of constitutional principle and said that this was an unconscionable infringement of parental liberty and violated various amendments.

            1. IIRC the Klan also had a pretty big political footprint in Indiana, almost winning the governorship at one point.

      1. To what extent do leftist and racist overlap?

        There is the curious matter of the federal legislative voting block continuity between the successionists and the modern Democratic Left. There is probably a reason for this.

        Several explanations are possible:
        1. The confederacy was left.
        2. It comes down to sentiments regarding deals, not ideology or ism. ACW was a split between republican and democratic ideals. Small d democratic ideals are compatible with both lynching and current left wing agenda.
        3. Leftism is racist. Remember Wilson. Leftism can be boiled down to certain ideas, like that measuring humans can be used to alter processes in order to improve humans. Race may have no real physical meaning, but it appears readily measurable to some. That some races are bad and should not breed is among the most basic type of proposed process alteration of this sort.
        4. Democrats are compulsive traitors and habitual supporters of terrorism.
        5. The KKK was only superficially racist, its true purpose was to suppress the local Republican vote.

        Possibilities, opinion, I missed too much sleep last night.

        1. It depends on which incarnation of the KKK you mean. NB Forrest was reputed to be a member of the KKK, but armed his former slaves to the point where even the Reconstruction officials got nervous.

          Maybe the info I’ve seen and heard is wrong. I’ve never made a detailed study of the KKK. But really, my understanding is that the current one came in the aftermath of the Leo Frank lynching. And while they are rumored to have suppressed votes, who they suppressed votes for apparently gets complicated.

          1. Tulsa is one of the cases that brought me to my current view. (White woman alone on an elevator with a black man cried rape. (She later recanted.) An attempt to lynch the man escalated into something like 30 to 300 deaths. (An eye witness claimed to have seen a mass burial carried out at a grave yard, but at least one geophysics investigation failed to find it.)) The whole thing was covered up, and Democrats pretty much owned Oklahoma at the time.

            Note that I didn’t hear of this as a KKK operation, but I did hear that the burning of Cromwell, Oklahoma was. (That was prohibition related violence, and reprisal for the murder of one of Oklahoma’s great lawmen.)

            I see the cover up of the Tulsa race riots as a particularly chilling political act. The government was apparently silent for decades, and Democratic officials necessarily implicated. (Because Republicans only became a major force in Oklahoma politics much later.)

            I think there was a similar pattern of violence and cover ups elsewhere in the South during the period when only Democrats were winning elections. I think the cover ups and the prevention of justice support the idea that the violence was politically sponsored.

            1. In Oklahoma I think the combination of hearsay about the race riots and the official cover up may have had a chilling effect on Republican activists.

            2. Look into the Wilmington NC race riots of 1898, which eventually led to a coup in the state government, establishment of a new state constitution and arguably set the stage for establishment of Jim Crow in the South.

              Nothing to do with the KKK; everything to do with white Democrats.

              1. Okay: Time to back away a moment and take in the big picture. I can list a number of incidents that weren’t KKK; I can also list a number of incidents that were. You have to look at each individually. Not all incidents of voter suppression was KKK, but that doesn’t mean the KKK was never involved in such.

                Now, if you’re looking for the start of Jim Crow laws, you have to go back prior to the Civil War with the “Slave codes.” Immediately after the Civil War, these laws were still applied, with the argument that blacks were not US citizens and thus did not have protection under the Constitution. And that led to the 14th Amendment. Obviously the 14th didn’t end Jim Crow laws, but it was hardly a phenomenon that began in the late 19th Century.

                All this opens a can of historical worms that’s well documented, but scarcely mentioned, There’s things that happened locally I never knew about until I was a grown man.

                1. There were similar laws on the books long before, but the Jim Crow laws refers to a specific code enacted throughout the South between 1890 and 1910. Their effect was to reduce Blacks to second-class status, stripping them of the right to vote.

                  Again, I strongly recommend you look into the Wilmington Race Riots of 1989:

                  The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington race riot of 1898, began in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 10, 1898 and continued for several days. It is considered a turning point in Post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics. The event marks an era of more severe racial segregation and effective disenfranchisement of African-Americans throughout the South, a shift already underway since passage by Mississippi of a new constitution in 1890 raising barriers to voter registration. Laura Edwards wrote in Democracy Betrayed (2000), “What happened in Wilmington became an affirmation of white supremacy not just in that one city, but in the South and in the nation as a whole.”

                  Originally described by white Americans as a race riot caused by blacks, the events are classified by some as a coup d’etat; white Democratic Party insurgents overthrew the legitimately elected local government, expelling black leaders from the city. In addition, a mob of nearly 2,000 white men attacked the only black newspaper in the state, and persons and property in black neighborhoods, killing an estimated 15 to more than 60 victims, and destroying homes and businesses built up since the Civil War.

                  The ethnic cleansing and establishment of a White mayor in what had been a majority Black city emboldened Democrats’ vote suppression and resultant victory in the NC legislature and governorship in 1900, which allowed the state constitution to be amended enacting the poll tax, literacy requirements and otherwise disenfranchising Black and Poor White North Carolinians.

                  1. I know what’s claimed, but I also have seen many things claimed that are questionable. There’s not that much difference between what was on the books before the Civil War and in the early part of Reconstruction and what came later. Call me arguing with a stop sign, if you wish.

            3. Wikipedia (I know) has it that the bars and brothels of Cromwell, OK were suspected to be burned by former law-enforcement associates of 70-year- old legendary lawman Bill Tilghman in retaliation for his murder at the hands of a crooked Prohibition agent. It and several other Google hits mention no KKK involvement, but I suppose it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

              And Judge Posner is still a moron.

              1. I heard KKK once, and I know they were active in part of the state. (Storing loot from the robberies of some of the would be revolutionaries.)

                I heard that it was a resource extraction town, and essentially destroyed and never rebuilt. (I need to try to visit the site one of these days.)

          2. Wikipedia claims:

            The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), or simply “the Klan”, is the name of three distinct movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration, and, especially in later iterations, Nordicism, anti-Catholicism, and antisemitism, historically expressed through terrorism aimed at groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the “purification” of American society, and all are considered right wing extremist organizations.

            which is dubious at best.

            As Kevin notes, Nathan Bedford Forrest, first Grand Wizard, quickly repudiated the Klan as it morphed from its origins (some might argue that it was usurped by people with a different agenda) thus indicating two distinct organizations running sequentially. Later suppression tamped it down except as a myth which would be drawn upon by later figures seeking to layer a patina of “legitimacy” on their own efforts. This would mean at least four distinct movements, not three.

            Wikipedia further errs in “considering” all versions of the KKK as right wing extremist organizations, although this error is understandable as Wiki’s sources consider all extremist organizations to be “right wing.” This is one of the venues in which experienced readers of Wikipedia have learned to significantly increase their salt intake and read between Wiki’s lines. It is rather difficult to reconcile President Wilson’s support for the Klan with it being a “right wing extremist organization” but Wiki is up to the challenge.

            It is only the (Wiki-designated) Second Klan, the Wilson endorsed one, that attained any significant power in American politics, spreading through the Solid South of the Democrats and into the Midwest, with its largest membership being in Indiana. In Michigan Wiki relates that half the state’s Klan membership was living in that hot-bed of right wing Republicanism, Detroit.

            The power of the Klan waned during the Depression and after the Second World War it existed primarily as an ineffective, largely derided rump group primarily serving the same purpose for Democrats that the Communists served for Republicans.

            1. As mentioned, KKK membership and anti-black violence wasn’t just a Southern thing, see the Duluth lynchings of some black carnival workers fot an alleged rape. And my step-grandfather, born, raised, and lived (other than for a brief stint in the Army ca. WWI) in northern Wisconsin had been a Klan member in his youth.

              1. In 1976, as we drove through Pennsylvania, we saw a thing we never had in the South: A billboard with the image of a Klansman on horseback and the words “Support you local Klan.” It could have been “Klansman” – it was long ago. The billboard wasn’t new, but the noteworthy thing is that it existed at all.

            2. Do you have a source to recommend on Wilson’s ties to the Klan and/or his being influenced by explicit racists? I’d be happy to be pointed at a book or two; I’m less than a mile from a substantial university library. This is something I’ve wanted to look into, but just looking at the Wilson shelves is a slow way to find this kind of information.

              1. At the simplest, easiest to find level, the first movie exhibited at the White House was D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, which Wilson praised highly:

                On the evening of March 21, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson attended a special screening at the White House of THE BIRTH OF A NATION, a film directed by D.W. Griffith and based on THE CLANSMAN, a novel written by Wilson’s good friend Thomas Dixon. … an enthusiastic Wilson reportedly remarked: “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

                The Birth of a Nation – PBS

          3. My understanding of the original KKK is that it was formed by NB Forest to end Norther Military Rule…er… Reconstruction of the Southern States and it and similar organizations functioned very much like some of the militias during the Iraq occupation, working as the stick that could be used but public ally denied by ‘legitimate’ politicians. Given that Forrest seemed to organize the original KKK as a commando paramilitary group and that Forrest had a history of integrating negroes in his military units (even his most elite) I have long suspect d that the original KKK probably included some negro Confederate veterans among its ranks. Their usefulness and the fact that Forrest already had a supply of proven and trusted negro confederates combined with his willingness to think outside the box… It seems pretty likely to me though it would have blown the minds of the later iterations of the Klan… it most of them were Damn Yankees anyway.

            1. That’s actually…somewhat unlikely. Forrest ended up becoming the first Grand Wizard of the KKK (supposedly), but wasn’t in on its origins, and later disavowed the group, claiming that it had degenerated into an excuse for thuggery.

      2. In the 1920s, racism was THE wave of the future. The thing you had to get on to avoid being trampled underfoot by the March of History. Segregation was good, progressive, forward-thinking — it helped prevent that disasterous unscientific race-mixing — and only old fogeys still clinging to the outmoded Constitution and Declaration of Independence would object.

          1. Do a little background reading about the major advocates of forced sterilization back then, or who the initiators of the Tuskegee Experiment were. One reason the Left hates Nazis is they ruined eugenics for everybody.

          2. Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs after some of the racial theory of the era can be — interesting.

            1. Burroughs, H. Rider Haggard, REH, Lovecraft: Pretty much any pulp from 1900 to 1950 is going to have eugenics to greater or lesser degree.

      3. To be racist, you need to be eager to split humans into broad categories, rather than deal with individuals. That’s a very leftist thing.

  5. “Okay a) It is NOT normal, in the South, even in isolated communities for brothers and sisters to sleep together. … c) it happens. It happens in all human tribes from isolated mountain communities to the pseudo-cosmopolitan-enclaves. It just happens.”
    RAH, in one of his Howard family stories (I forget which one, and haven’t reread it as yet; pretty sure it’s one of his later novels), had the mom discover the boy and girl at it, and verbally chastise them both.

      1. The Amazon bio says she grew up in Birmingham Alabama, went to Auburn University in Alabama, now lives in Georgia. But it also says she spent years working on TV soap operas, which could do Lord knows what to your sense of story. Henry Slesar is the only good writer I know who wrote soap operas, and his storytelling outside of TV was grotesque short stories. As for ladies checking in to a home for a while when they’ve had enough of life (which is what we called taking them to the psychiatric inpatient unit), consult Sharon McCrumb in the last Elizabeth McPherson novel, and Florence King. The writer of this novel seems to have developed a terrible syndrome about growing up in the South and living there.

          1. Bingo. Caldwell, the Georgian who wrote Tobacco Road, never grasped why the poor whites he thought he was helping despised his very name. It’s clear from his works that he was “eat up” with classism. Today we’d call it elitism.

        1. Oh! That makes it make perfect sense!

          No, not being sarcastic– but if you take the summary she mentions and translate it into soap opera with murder… it’s like how some stories only make sense in Anime.

    1. The protagonist in “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” catches two of her kids at it, and ultimately ends up forcibly seperating them.

      Of course, keep in mind that by that time, iirc her ex-husband has replaced her with one of their daughters, and the conclusion of the book ends with her renewing a sexual relationship with a man who turns out to be her time traveling son.

      So I don’t think we can really use that novel as an example of much, if anything.


  6. Oh, yeah, even though she identifies at least the family of the most recent murdered girl as being Catholic, the book keeps talking about how she was a snake handler with a crazy evangelical sect.

    Well, I do have a crazy uncle that likes to play with snakes who’s Catholic (baptized and confirmed! Only time I’m sure he’s been to mass in the last 20 years was his mother’s funeral, but he IS a crazy Catholic snakehandler….) but my husband and I are probably the closest to evangelistic and we’re not even in any movements. Ooh, wait, do the Knights count?! It’s not Opus Dei, but they do a little out-reach…..

    Yes, I know, totally silly avoiding the point.

    Trying to get a smile. 😀

    1. Given according to the media the only forms of Christianity are Baptists and Catholics and the most accurate theology is the nearest graduate of Joe Bob’s Bible College I’m not surprised we get books like this.

      I guess it is too much for educated gatekeepers to even know of the existence of the second largest Christian Communion on the planet, how long Christianity has been in India, or anything silly like that.

      1. I recently ran into a bunch of Christian apologists who appeared to view the idea that Christianity is old and not purely modern English based with suspicion.

        Heck, the idea that it existed outside of their personal world view…..

          1. I don’t think they think on it that much.

            I mean, seriously, I had to shut up when someone started on a theory that original sin was genetically transmitted on the male line because it’s just too nifty of an AU idea– because that would mean the best way for Jesus to save everyone would be for Him to be the only male ancestor.

            If anybody wants this as the basis for an Evil Crystal Dragon Religion, go for it.

          2. I should probably point out that as best I could tell, they didn’t really grok that anybody else was really different than themselves.

            Bethlehem might as well be the place in Pennsylvania, for all the cultural/social difference it made.

            1. I’ve sometimes toyed with a retelling of the Christmas story in modern “costume”, the way painters throughout history have depicted Biblical subjects in the normal clothing of their era. In this version, José (a construction worker) and Maria (his young wife) drive into Bethlehem, PA to go to the government office to fill out the latest round of officious* paperwork, and plan stay with one of José’s cousins in their guest bedroom**. But that cousin already has several other people staying over (the officious paperwork requirements have had EVERYONE in the extended family coming to town), so he puts down a cot in the garage. And when baby Jésus is born overnight, they wrap him in soft towels, and turn a large toolbox into a makeshift crib. Later on, a group of bikers*** show up, saying that they were told by a group of angels (“And I don’t mean Hell’s Angels, neither”) that they should come meet the baby, because He would someday save everyone from their sins.

              I don’t think it would help anyone understand the story any better, so I’ve never taken the idea past the “vague concept” stage. But

              * No, I didn’t typo the word “official”. 🙂

              ** The word usually translated as “inn” in the famous “no room in the inn” phrase actually refers to the “upper room” where guests would sleep, rather than a commercial rent-a-room establishment.

              *** Shepherds had such a poor reputation in those days that their testimony wasn’t accepted in court. I figured a biker gang would be the closest modern equivalent.

              1. … But it’s a fun idea to contemplate, is what I was going to say in that last sentence. (I hit “Post Comment” just a bit too quickly).

                1. It would be fun, but don’t use the Spanish names. People will assume you’re making a plea for illegal immigrants and never consider anything else. Call the baby Joshua and go with it.
                  I can’t wait to hear who the three kings are. You probably could get funding for a movie this way, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

                  1. I’ve long suspected the originals were time travelers. If you could go back and witness historical events, which one would people be most tempted to break the rules for the chance to see?

                    1. John C Wright did a time travel story about the Nativity. One man, though, so not all three.

                    2. If it’s the one I am remembering, that summary has a “sort of” attached. In at least three places.

                      Or he may have done two of them….

                  2. *gets the giggles*

                    Make it so that they’re Jewish “settlers” in one of the areas granted to Israel originally. The UN requires that they go to…hm…. that city that they have all the embassies in (Tel Aviv, I think?) to be accounted for, along with all the other settlers, to get permission to live on his grandfather’s farm, which they fled for their lives back during that war when all the land was taken, and which he sunk his savings into to buy. Maybe make it so that Mary is the…hm…great grand-daughter of his grandfather’s neighbor, whose land was part of the package deal.

                    This really needs someone who’s got a much better grasp of the bloodlines involved than I do, much less the last-century-ish history, but the UN’s abuse of Israel is as close a parallel as I can think of…have to be a near-future thing, I think.

                  3. …. Yeah, they would, wouldn’t they? I’m glad you mentioned that, because that’s an aspect that actually hadn’t occurred to me. My choice of Spanish names came out of thinking “In which culture(s) would it NOT be strange-sounding for the baby to be named Jesus?”, but having the baby called Joshua is a perfectly fine solution. (In fact, the name Joshua may be a better transcription of the name Yeshua into English than the name Jesus is). And that would remove one potential distraction from the message of the video. Thanks for the Joshua suggestion!

                    1. Perhaps if you cast the parents along the lines of <I<Night Court‘s Bob & June Wheeler (Brent Spiner & Annie O’Donnell)?

                    2. Some might prefer this …

                      It was a nightmare … the godawful smell of meringue … blood-curdling peeping.

              2. If I could paint I actually have mental images of several Biblical stories in modern dress for that reason, but they are all Old Testament.

              3. Biggest problem with it is the over-worked “Holy Family as illegal immigrants.” I think this was the first Christmas I didn’t hear one with Joseph as a Mexican, but that may have just been because of the Middle Eastern options.

                For heaven’s sake, they were in Bethlehem because it was Joseph’s family’s home town….


                Now you have me wanting to do a more traditional version retold– folks really don’t “get” the scandal involved in Mary turning up pregnant, or what Joseph was accepting by being willing to quietly divorce her, much less by keeping her. That’s besides the tradition that she was dedicated to the temple’s service– basically, Joseph accepted it looking like he got a nun he’d promised to take care of pregnant. I don’t know how on earth you’d translate the “you will have a son” and a gal engaged to be married going “huh, how’s that gonna happen?”
                Hm, maybe go the postulant and spiritual director route….

                1. Of course, I’ve always “heard of it” as Joseph was going to be kidded about “not waiting” to be “formally” married before getting Mary pregnant. 😉

                  Mind you, those jokes would have been similar to the ones about 7-month pregnancies. 😀

                  1. “Everyone knows an eager young bride can do in seven months what takes cow or countess nine” Robert Heinlein (close paraphrase of a line he’s used more than once, I think)

                  2. That’s what I always understood it as, but it’s a…what’s the translation term, false friend?

                    We’re a lot more forgiving about that sort of failure, even as they were more forgiving than their neighbors.

                    1. False cognate. Such as “embarrasada” in Spanish not actually being “embarrassed”, but rather something impossible for the male of the species.

                2. Our pastor did a series of sermons on that this year, fortunately using the flight into Egypt for it, not Bethlehem. (Stil questionable, but not quite as bad.)

                  1. Yeah, if the Holy Family had been pursued by drug cartels or something it could work….

                    I do give half points for not using the freakin’ ancestral city as the same as the US.

                    …am now wondering about Aztechland or however the “Mexican Indians go all German unification on the Americas” guys influence on that cliched rant.

                3. I’m glad you mentioned the illegal-immigrants angle, because that one actually had not even occurred to me until both you and Sarah both pointed it out, and it would be a major distraction. As I mentioned, I was trying to find a plausible reason for the baby to be named Jesus, and having them be from a Spanish-speaking culture was my solution. But having the baby be named Joshua is much better, since it removes the political angle (and Joshua is a perfectly accurate transcription of Yeshua).

                  1. Just like the 90-gazillion variations on “Mary” are a decent simulation of whichever version Mary went by. (Although you gotta be careful on ‘the same name’ thing from resources, a lot of sources will group variations on the same name as the same name, which you can only catch if they also do it with ones you’re familiar with– like Mary, Marie, Marri or John, Ivan, Johanas, Giovanni….)

    2. I went past the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus over Christmastime. It looks like a cross between a castle and a modern office tower, rising up maybe twenty stories with normal glass windows/walls in the central portion of the building, but with round, featureless, stone/brick towers at the corners. Its rather creepy in a way, and looms up over its environs. It frankly looks like something nefarious should be orchestrated from inside.

      1. Oooh, ooh, you should see the monkey suits!

        The high ranking guys get OPERA CAPES! And hats with the poofy feather thing down the middle! And swords!

        OK, probably the most evil thing the branch my husband joined ever plotted was a mildly dull movie night with a spaghetti feed on Saturday night– it was that old technicolor movie about a Marian apparition in Portugal whose name I can’t remember right now, the one with the three peasant kids.

        But they look cool!

              1. Would they have accurately gotten those into the movie?

                I “recognized” some of the stuff because I know westerns from the same period– it’s like how you can “recognize” which character is which in the Seven Samurai versions.

                1. I think they left in how rabidly anti-religion the government was. I didn’t ever study that time or not accurately. They’d tell us the number of the republic, but nothing else. But grandma told me. Think the crazy anti-religious things of the French Revolution then subtract a smidgen. For a while there was actual open war between the church and the Portuguese government (it was fixed with an accord which somehow involved Brazil, hence Lisbon and Rio have a statue of Christ the King. Understand I’m hazy since most of this is grandma-tales.) It was in this context that the apparitions happened.

                  1. So the thing where the kids were kidnapped and reasonably expected they were to be executed was not a Hollywood… I kind of figured, given the time, but oy is it harder to find any good sources for odd details of apparitions if you don’t already know enough. (Doesn’t help that it isn’t really one that appeals to me!)

            1. I have read of the incident. The whole thing, especially the dancing sun part, is irresistible to UFO and paranormal enthusiasts, so it gets described in about every second generic book on those subjects. But they usually concentrate on the out of this world parts, and give politics etc only passing nods.

              1. For some unknown reason, the miracle summaries do the same thing.

                “A ton of people showed up even though it could get them freaking shot by the army” is kind of an important note, y’know?

  7. Odd thing, this might have worked if it had been set in the 1930s and with a few more revisions (KKK and Roman Catholics? Almost laughed out loud, and then thought of the Knights of Columbus, but they were a response to the Masons – I think). Anyway, I remember going into county courthouse records and seeing rows of books of people committed to a certain mental institution. Did a few minutes skimming out of curiosity, and had the impression a good many were done to claim estates. Asking around about that opened the lid on an incredible amount of old gossip and rumor about why it was done to so-and-so.

    So much stuff. A political family that runs for office is going to be set up for all kinds of slurs (Eugene Talmadge and the mule). One that doesn’t isn’t talked about much, more out of respect for family, who can’t help what an ancestor did, than the ancestor himself.

    The idea of inbreeding is hilarious to anyone who ever met the old matriarchs, who would rattle off who was kin to whom up to third and fourth cousin. There’s a very practical reason for that. Sure, it happened in more isolated areas, but was uncommon.

    I do confess that Southerners often played up some aspects on the principle, stated by a Georgia politician who’d name I’ve forgotten, that “A Yankee is worth more than a bale of cotton, and is twice as easy to pick.” And yes, there has long been northern bias, but the take was if playing up to it helped make a buck, so be it.

    FWIW, growing up in a small Southern town was closer to the fictional Cicely, Alaska. There was just no telling who you might meet.

    1. I’ve always thought that Billy Carter played the News Media like a fiddle. 😀

    2. No, the KKK and Roman Catholics can be reconciled if you assume enough crazy conspiracy theories about Catholicism.

    3. “Did a few minutes skimming out of curiosity, and had the impression a good many were done to claim estates.” That’s one of the things that I gathered, too – it was a plot point in “Sunset and Steel Rails.” Brother and head of formerly wealthy family fallen on hard times conspires to wreck his younger sister’s engagement and send her to the asylum so that he can continue controlling a small inheritance of hers. It’s not that large an inheritance – but he is counting every penny. (And is a psychopath, too.)

    4. When I lived in Chattanooga, I worked in hospitality. So I got to see the local producers of medical supplies waltz their potential clients through on a regular basis. It was amazing amounts of fun to watch the local boys absolutely take the smug metropolitan types to the cleaners. They left with their sense of superiority intact, after overpaying by at least 200℅..

      1. *snicker* Playing the hick to the hilt is a proud Southern tradition! Personally, I think we got it from the Cherokee, Creek, and etc. I have cousins that could sell ice water to eskimos like that. *grin*

    5. The ‘Yankee worth more than a bale of cotton’ quote was from the late Jonathan W. Daniels, a newspaperman in North & South Carolina as well as a former White House Press secretary (back when literacy was a requirement of both jobs).

  8. “Feminist flowers”
    There is one 2x great grandmother I’d like to have met. She lost her husband and three youngest children to typhoid fever in one month, back in 1888. She had already lost one infant before that. She went on to marry again, lost another child, lost that husband–and married again. I don’t think I would be that tough, and certainly none of these feminist flowers can even imagine those circumstances.

  9. I think one of the factors this author was dealing with is, most muder mysteries don’t make any goddamned sense because the basic structure of the murder mystery doesn’t make sense.

    Read Chandler’s THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER. His basic point; how murders happen in the ‘murder mystery universe’ basically isn’t how people actually behave. So when you try to make characters behave that way, whay you get is a world gone mad.

    Add the basic Liberal/Progressive assumptions to that and the result is going to be something downright surreal.

    1. Murder mysteries take place in a universe as artificial as No drama.

      I believe it was W.H. Auden who observed that Chandler didn’t want to write mysteries, he wanted to write general literature that happened to be about crime.

  10. The plot only hangs together, to the extent it does, because all the police in Alabama are in the pocket of the kkk. Yep, still. Because “in Alabama these things never go away” or some such bullshit.

    Fun fact –

    Jeff Sessions (i.e. Trump’s “racist” Attorney General pick) helped destroy the local Klan affiliate in Alabama. A couple of members of the local Klan affiliate, who were upset about something, decided to kidnap and murder a random black man (i.e. the man in question hadn’t personally done anything in particular that his killers found to be offensive). While I don’t think Sessions was personally involved in the case, he acted to encourage the prosecution of the killers (they were found Guilty).

    The epilogue to the crime and conviction is that the victim’s mother or wife (can’t remember which off the top of my head) then sued the Klan affiliate in civil court for the victim’s death, and as a result of the jury’s decision, ended up owning all of the affiliate’s property.

    So the idea that the KKK controls the government at all levels in Alabama would come as something of a shock to the citizens of that state…

    1. Doesn’t come as a shock; more like the reason damyankee is one word.

      Jeff Sessions prosecuted everyone who deserved it; I was living there at the time.

      1. Both of you are telling unpossible stories…the press and the left (but I repeat myself) assure me Sessions is such a racist he orders black people painting white.

  11. Not a comment on the South, but on incest, generally. In certain societies, they have HUGE problems with this sort of thing. In Japan during the Heian period and the middle ages, incest was a real issue. The main reason being that women were particularly sheltered, almost to the level of harems. That meant that the males that women were most likely to be associated with were family members. In particular, stepson-stepmother (or second or third wife of father) relations were a HUGE problem. One analysis of court cases over a period of about 100 years found that those relations made up something like 1/3 of the actions brought for divorce or disinheriting.


    1. I don’t know about Japan, but I have read (can’t point to the source, sorry) that the Medieval Church counted “incest” as going out to something like fourth cousins, which meant pretty much everyone in your village. So most people had to ask the church for a dispensation to marry. And conversely, the upper classes could offer “We just disovered we’re first and second cousins, once removed on either side!” as a rationalization for having a marriage annulled if it wasn’t working out. What counts as “incest” isn’t culturally universal, though counting something as “incest” seems to be.

      1. It depended on where and when, and I think that Mary and Banshee recently had a tiny geek-fest on various sources… in the last month, anyways?

        They also had different ways of figuring you were related, too– your nursemaid (as in fed you milk) counted in some cases, and your godparents were family, too.

        This might make your eyes glaze, but it’s got a great deal of information. Including some German law attributed to the Church about no marriage to SEVEN degrees…..

        1. Weirdly the milk thing MIGHT have some influence on epigenetics. Curiously my only milk-child has the same autoimmune I have, though it doesn’t run in his family.

  12. # 7 reminds me of the infamous Chuck Austen X-Men story where he has Catholic extremists trying to fake the Rapture . . .

  13. Having lived (briefly) in a true small town in Maine I can concur with the BbESP. You Have No Privacy. Everyone knows your business, up to and including the UPS driver on your route so find another way to get your body disposal supplies delivered. They know your car practically down to the VIN number (which creates all sorts of fun when you buy a used one until the jungle telegraph updates the registration). True story: they caught some drug smugglers who pulled into the wrong little rocky cove (it’s ALL little rocky coves on that coast) and *nobody was expecting visitors*. So many phone calls were made, notes compared, and Maine State Patrol Troop J got called. Note I am not claiming there was no drug smuggling–this was *outsiders* and that was different!

    The most you could hope for is everyone liked you and would politely not mention your bad behavior to your face 😀

    1. Behind your back, though… Or if Aunt May had just a bit too much of her favorite tipple… Yeah, no. On the privacy thing, that is.

      In my little town, I had a cousin on the police force, another one at the hospital, and an aunt in the school system who considered gossip a holy duty and privacy a dangerous vice. I may have had a secret of my own for five whole minutes before I move out for a few years, but I doubt it. *chuckle*

      1. I met a teacher who lived in a TeenyTinyTown. She claimed that she borrowed a pair of binoculars to “bird watch”. Then she happened to look over at her nearest neighbor’s house – where she saw the lady of the house on the back porch pointing binoculars back at her. 😀

  14. The Klan was arguably its most powerful in Indiana during the 1920s and it had a large presence in many northern states. I tend to regard the North’s view of the South as I do Democrats’ accusations against Republicans: projection.

    Having grown up in the South and since lived around the country (and outside of it), I’ve found the South to be far more socially integrated among blacks and whites than the North. I generally can’t abide any books about the South because they’re describing a different reality from my own experience and that of my ancestors whose living memory extended back to the teens..

    Membership in the Klan was not some sort of high status signal as is commonly depicted in Hollywood (‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ gets surprisingly close). But it’s just easier and lazier to ignore the clear histories of the North, like, say…the massive race riots of the 60s (to name one of many examples) and perpetuate the myth that all the problems are south of the Mason-Dixon line.

    1. I’ve found the South to be far more socially integrated among blacks and whites than the North.

      Keep in mind that the major desegregation riots in the Sixties & Seventies occurred in Pontiac, MI. and Boston, MA.

    2. It’s complicated. Blacks and whites worked together, and it wasn’t unknown for blacks and whites to go to church together until some point after the Civil War. I was taught to say “Ma’am” and “Sir” regardless of race, and in my childhood you better give up your seat to a lady, black or white, especially in church. In fact, it was seeing the different set of behavior in church and in the secular world that had me questioning Segregation.

      Such wasn’t universal, and in the latter part of the 20th Century I saw racism in church that I had never seen in the local ones during the last days of Segregation. That church happened to be “progressive,” too. So maybe I was in a pocket where such things didn’t go on.

      Yet I remember segregated rest rooms, water fountains, and schools. I remember when blacks were only allowed in the balcony at theaters. I’ve seen and heard other things. So the best way to describe it is “complicated.”

      1. Oh, I’m under no misapprehension that those things didn’t happen.

        My point was simply that – despite certain cultural…insistencies that it was – it wasn’t (and isn’t) confined to the South, nor were some of the most egregious examples.

    3. The best summary I ever saw about racism in the North and South went like this:
      Southerners don’t like groups but like people; Northerners like groups but don’t like people.
      Southerners are okay with getting close, but don’t want them getting high; Northerners are okay with getting high, but don’t want them getting close.

  15. > Honeysuckle — brings with it a sensory
    > load of sense and taste.

    Sho ’nuff. I get a mild rash from poison ivy, but honeysuckle really hurts.

    “The sky was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

  16. Semi-on topic, likely that Sarah has already seen it over on Instapundit, but…

    Too damn rich not to share:

    Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems”

    “Badly worded or poorly conceived questions on standardized tests are not uncommon (remember the question about a “talking pineapple” on a New York test in 2012?). But here’s something new: The author of source material on two Texas standardized tests says she can’t actually answer the questions about her own work because they are so poorly conceived. She also says she can’t understand why at least one of her poems — which she calls her “most neurotic” — was included on a standardized test for students.”

    This is kinda-sorta on point with this morning’s post, and just too schadenfruedelicious not to share. I usually don’t care for the literary types, but… Man, I’m liking the cut of this lady’s jib. ‘Effing hysterical, and I can about guarantee that the geeeeniousssses that wrote those tests are never gonna admit that they’re even slightly wrong. This is a real-world example of that old story-meme about Shakespeare being brought forward in time to attend college, and failing a class on interpreting his own works. Fiction brought to life, before us: Truly, we live in glorious times!!

    Or, not. YMMV, etc.

    1. I like her take on her own poetry, too; she basically wrote it to get it out of her system, and knows it’s on these tests because it’s comparatively cheap to buy the rights, not because it’s Timeless Prose.

    2. Obviously the point is to ensure that the teachers stick to the party line while teaching her poetry, so the kids know “the answer.’

  17. I can get all the madwomen I need in NY magazine columnists, HBO “stars,” Manhattan novelists, and womyn’s studies products of every stripe well north of the Manson-Nixon Line, as Robin Williams called it. Don’t need to pay for another, I think.

    And on a related note, the SJW’s are stalking SE Hinton on Twitter for not retrowriting gay characters into books she wrote 50 years ago.

    1. The world spins further down the drain into the great abyss:

      ‘Goodnight Moon’ author was a bisexual rebel who didn’t like kids
      … it’s likely few could even name the book’s author, let alone know her wild backstory. She was a hyper-prolific writer who changed the face of modern picture books; a children’s book author who didn’t particularly like children; an avid rabbit hunter who penned the classic story “The Runaway Bunny”; a great beauty who never married but flitted from relationship to relationship with men and at least one woman.

      Margaret Wise Brown is the deserving subject of a new biography “In the Great Green Room” by Amy Gary, a Brown-obsessive, who unearthed a treasure trove of her unpublished works, diaries and letters and has devoted her career to continuing Brown’s.


      Despite her growing success, she harbored a deep insecurity about her career and wished to write “real” literature.

      “I hope to write something serious one day as soon as I have something to say. But I am stuck in my childhood, and that raises the devil when one wants to move on,” she said.

      And like many of the great children’s authors (Roald Dahl and Maurice Sendak come to mind), she had a conflicted relationship with her young fans. She told a Life reporter in 1946, “I don’t especially like children . . . At least not as a group. I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he’s little.”

      Brown never married or had children and didn’t seem to bemoan that fact. In a letter to her college alumni newspaper in 1945, she wrote derisively: “How many children have you? I have 50 books.”


      Needless to say, carrying on a lesbian affair at a time when that fact could get you committed to a mental hospital was dangerous.

      1. Given the evidence they offer for the not liking kids, I wouldn’t be too sure it wasn’t a standard issue rumor mill bit of junk.

        I don’t especially like kids as a group, either, and I have ‘lots of kids.’ Good thing, they have a nasty habit of turning into adults. I like people as individuals…..

        Imagining how many times she must’ve been asked about having kids… oy, I’d be cranky, too.

        1. The nice thing about having one’s own children is that you can raise them to be the kind of people you want to hang around with.

          1. …which is something that many members of the “I Hate Kids” crowd don’t realize.

            1. Then there are the people who know that they lack the patience to deal with kids full time. 😉

  18. First: what the devil does Conan have to do with this? Google Kull, and that’s all you get. I presume from the context it’s some sort of book sharing gubbage, but I can’t find kull with google except for King Kull, and you certainly aren’t talking about Conan…
    Eventually you mention “Burying the Honeysuckle Girls” which led me to a novel of that name which apparently got some good reviews; I wouldn’t know, having no desire to read it, so I’ll take your description as my text.

    I grew up in the Old South, legal segregation and all, in Memphis for my first 7 years, then Capleville, now I guess a suburb but enough miles away from Memphis in those days as to be very much rural. The nearest town to where we lived was Mineral Wells, Mississippi, where I would go by bicycle or with a wagon load of cotton (mule drawn) to the gin. Mineral Wells gin at Lamb’s general store paid more for cotton than Capleville, but the store charged more than Capleville stores did so we did our grocery shopping in Capleville, or, given that Dad wrangled a C sticker for the car (gas rationing) we’d sometimes go the the Piggly Wigley or A&P grocery “supermarkets” in Memphis where you could wander the aisles picking out what you wanted (as opposed to most grocery stores where you stood at the front counter and told the grocer what you wanted, and he went and got it). Supermarkets took over and after the war war the little Mom and Pop grocery stores disappeared.

    Anyway, rural enough for you? Southern, too. Most everyone we knew as Baptist. I went to Catholic school in Memphis because they took me at age five and I could already read, and the Sisters were far better teachers than the public schools had. My family was Unitarian, but of course I had the catechism class at each grade. My father hated the Baptist church although not Baptists.

    Everyone I knew was a Democrat. I never met a Republican. Turns out my parents were Republicans, but they never told me that. In those days, the Solid South meant solid — 90% — Democrat in local, state, and national elections, and all the stand up comic routines were about “My father is a gangster, my mother shoplifts, I have two no good Republican cousins, my sister is studying to be a prostitute, and Miss Lonelyhearts, my question is, do I dare tell the girl I want to marry about these two no good Republican cousins?”

    In first grade my best friend was Ed Pidgeon, Catholic of course, whose father owned the Coca Cola company franchise for East Tennessee and was one of the richest people in Memphis, friends with Ed Crump the City Boss, as was my father. Baptists preached sermons about the Whore of Babylon AKA the Roman Catholic Church, but I never saw any religious discrimination, and because I went to St. Anne’s everyone thought I was Catholic.

    When we moved to Capleville there weren’t any Catholics. There was rumored to be a KKK somewhere in Shelby County, but I never saw it. After all, it wasn’t the real Klan.

    We learned all about the real Klan in fourth grade Tennessee history. It was started in Pulaski, Tenn. after The War by General Nathan Bedford Forest to oppose the Freedman’s Bureau, which was run by carpetbaggers and employed armed blacks; former Confederate officers were not allowed to hold any public office, nor was anyone who had held any office, including Justice of the Peace, town council, mayor — any office during the Confederacy. You can imagine the effect on an aristocratic society.

    Nobody paid any attention to the Yankees pretending to be JP’s, and a lot of people went to the former JP to settle their disputes. General Forest’s Klan started out as the enforcement unit for the traditional local authorities — the ones people actually thought ought to be ruling them — and of course intimidating the Freedman’s Bureau, scalawags, carpetbaggers, and such. This caught on and Klans formed in other states. It was formed by a bunch of former officers in Pulaski drinking at a tavern, who elected Forest Grand Dragon, and had offices like Kleagle and other absurd names. Ku Klux Klan comes from Ku Klux which is the clicking sound of a rifle being cocked, going from down to half cock (safe) to full cock. It is an intimidating sound. The burning cross comes from an old highland summons of the clans — see Sir Walter Scott, the Lady of the Lake. The outlandish costumes frightened the superstitious.
    The Real Klan, General Forest’s Klan, was popular and was mostly made up of former officers and public officials who probably would have been elected if Reconstruction hadn’t forbidden them from holding office. Anyway that’s what we were taught.
    This continued until the Hayes-Tilden election, in which the Democrats won the popular vote and the Republicans may have won the electoral vote; it became a real mess, and a compromise happened, in which Hayes got to be President, but Reconstruction was ended, and General forest disbanded the Klan.

    Many years later another Klan was formed, but it had few similarities to Forest’s Klan. It never had real political power in the South; mostly it thrived in the Midwest, Indiana, Michigan, and such. It was considered lower class in the South. It was very anti-Catholic as well as anti-Jewish.

    And I’ve forgotten why I started writing this. But what the devil has King Kull to do with General Forest and the Old South?

    1. KULL is, IIRC, a distribution program that one can join if one distributes ebooks elusively with Amazon.

      The customer pays a monthly fee as Sarah says.

      Last I heard, the author/publisher gets paid per page read. Some folks think it is a good market, some that it isn’t worth the opportunity cost.

    2. The KULL thing threw me for a minute since I didn’t recognize it as an acronym either.

      There was one Catholic family that I knew in my private school in eastern NC in the ’70s. They owned the local bacon making plant; it was probably a slaughterhouse, but I remember their bacon brand name. (I went through the Memphis airport coming back from Army Reserve duty at Ft. Lewis two decades ago. And why would the eastern Tennessee Coca-Cola distributor live in Memphis; wait, he owned it, not worked at it?)

      (BTW, 86 the Eagle Brand milk; we only got an inch of snow at most after the {1/2? inch of} rain turned to sleet. I only slipped down once giving the dogs hot dogs and fresh water just before noon. There was a half-inch of ice on the road yesterday, but the mail came. I haven’t been that way yet.)

      1. Mr. Pidgeon owned the Coca Cola franchise for East Tennessee. How he got it I don’t know, probably his ancestors were early investors. The Pidgeons didn’t work, they were heirs; and Memphis was the Big City for several states around. Why wouldn’t he live there? Obviously had a summer home in the mountains (West Tennessee, east Tenn is flat or rolling hills as is most of that part of the Mississippi valley).

        Sardis Dam on the Tallahassee (as in Billy Joe MacAlister jumped off) was down Highway 78 about forty miles from the border; good fishing, and there were lake properties there for rich people. The Pidgeons had a plantation there but they didn’t live there or work it, but sometimes there would be fishing parties.

        It was a different time. Quite young kids would go out on bicycles without supervision and no one thought anything about it. But if there was incest or spinster relatives locked up in the attic that happened somewhere else. Or in Victorian novels.

        1. I vote Victorian novels.
          I used to go out on foot. Okay, okay, so they told us not to go near the old Roman mines, because they were afraid they’d cave. Of course we did. I think every generation of kids did. We’d go out in the morning and come back for dinner. It allowed for a lot more growth.

      2. I’m sorry, I meant West Tennessee of course. East Tennessee is mountainous and they don’t grow cotton. Cotton was king when I was a kid, and cotton land was important. He was West Tennessee. I got my adjectives mixed up. Happens when you’re this old.

        1. Reminds me of that line from “Sink the Bismark” when they think the course or position some observer gave for the Bismark is off by 180 degrees: “___ has joined the reciprocal club.”

          (My family once spent the night in Johnson City, Tennessee by mistake on a trip to the NC mountains. We turned the wrong way leaving, I think, Cherokee, NC.)

    3. “[The KKK] was considered lower class in the South.”

      Precisely as all of my dirt poor, middle-to-low class Mississippi Delta ancestors characterized it.

      Klan affiliation or even sympathy meant social ostracization even in my family’s lower circles. By the time of my youth in the 70s and 80s in MS, the Klan was a joke.

      1. The Klan in the Thirties was never attractive to anyone I ever knew. But the old Klan — General Forest’s Klan, disbanded when Reconstruction ended — was a different story. Most of the officer class joined that when it existed. It wasn’t so much anti-black as it was a resistance movement against the Freedman’s Bureau and all the carpetbaggers and scalawags. I knew several old men who were proud of having been in that Klan.

    4. Jerry,

      Thanks for the history. So much of what passes for history is revisionist progressive propaganda. I also was confused by the Kull references. Sarah’s response enlightened us both.

      Best wishes for you and Roberta in this new year.

    5. Mr. Pornelle, given that Forrest was known to have had black soldiers in his military units, the utility of nego spies or scouts to the original Klan, and Forrests martial creativity, what to you think of my speculation that the original Klan may have included some negro members?

      1. Not impossible. Forrest was known to have had two armed slave bodyguards all during the war, having told chem when he went off ti accept his commission, “Run now, or don’t. If you stay, you stay with me.” I know of no evidence that they later joined the Klan, but they were certainly with him to the end of the war, so it’s not all that unlikely.

      2. I have seen references to such. Including a photo of an old black man who used to hang around patriotic celebrations in South Carolina in a gray uniform, to honor his ancestor- – who he claimed was both a Confederate soldier and a Klansman.

    6. I also was educated at a St. Anne’s, but in East Tennessee (the nuns were far better educators here, too). That history of the Klan sounds very like the lessons we had in third and fourth grade history class.

    7. all the stand up comic routines were about “My father is a gangster, my mother shoplifts, I have two no good Republican cousins, my sister is studying to be a prostitute, and Miss Lonelyhearts, my question is, do I dare tell the girl I want to marry about these two no good Republican cousins?”

      I see the Democratic sense of humor hasn’t changed much in the intervening time.

      That’s nice that modern Democrats are maintaining the old ways.


  19. b) I think it’s based on the fact that in isolated communities cousin marriage is tolerated, whatever the law says, because, isolated.

    Apparently the United States is the only western country in which cousin marriage has any restrictions, and not everywhere. And contrary to most people’s belief, first cousin marriage is legal in NY, NJ, CT, all the Northeast except NH. Not legal in Arkansas, the state with the most jokes about genealogists making easy money tracing family trees with no branches. Nor is it allowed in MS or MO, and is a criminal offense in TX.

    1. It initially flummoxed me when I finally figured out that people around me thought cousin marriage was (a) incestuous, (b) scandalous, and (c) risible. I had read a lot of Louisa May Alcott in boyhood, including the two-volume series whose happy ending is that heroine Rose marries her bookish cousin (and all her other suitors are also cousins, I believe). As a bookish kid myself, I was impressed by this, and it made my think that cousin marriage was romantic.

      But Americans have weird attitudes that they think are natural. My favorite manga series, A Bride’s Story, is about an arranged marriage in Central Asia where the wife is 20 and the husband is 12; I’ve seen several people describe it as having “no conflict” because she doesn’t hate her husband, denounce arranged marriage, and rebel against the whole institution of marriage—and somehow don’t notice the conflict of a wife who’s eager for a consummation her husband isn’t ready for yet!

      1. It’s one of those things that trips up American students often when reading British literature, I think. The other one—which I only found out recently—is that Americans think of frowning as at the mouth, while Brits think of it as at the forehead. It’s the sort of thing that nobody notices without it being explained.

        1. *tilts head to side and thinks about it*

          You know…that makes sense, especially since a lot of what makes it a “frown” is in the eyes. I can see the “frown” that doesn’t involve the mouth, but it only “works” on folks who don’t end up squinting against the sun as much.

          So cool!

        2. Huh? I’m an American, and I’ve never heard of “frown” being anything other than lowering and approximating the brows so there are little vertical lines in the middle of the forehead. I can’t even imagine what movement of the mouth could be called “frowning.”

          1. I can’t even imagine what movement of the mouth could be called “frowning.”

            “Turn that frown upside down.” “Smiley face” vs. “frowny face”. There’s this idea “in the wild” of where a smile turns the corners of the lips up, a frown turns them down. I’ve not seen a real expression working that way, but that’s something that gets in people’s heads.

            1. I’ve been downturned mouths, more often on people whose faces appear to be fixed in that expression for some reason… also on baby, who does (or used to do — an absolutely classic :-(.

            1. Can you show an actual face doing that? I have a weird streak of prosopagnosia that turns emoticons into weird visual static for me; normally my eye just skips over them, and if I make the effort to focus on them I get almost no meaning from them.

  20. You really have to be careful about those “morning after” books, especially if alcohol is involved.

  21. …so that my publisher doesn’t kill me.

    I didn’t know Baen had the death penalty. Who’da thought it?

    So you read in the loo? Well doesn’t everybody. Late one night we caught The Daughter (who was still quite young) reading the back of a Woolite bottle while in the bathroom for lack of anything else. She had been under strict orders To-Get-Some-Sleep-Already, but with our habits neither The Spouse nor I could say anything against her reading in the loo.

    1. More than one person has come out of our bathroom saying, “You have books… in the bathroom?!”

      Well, yes…

      1. doesn’t everyone? We still do, in case we forget our kindle. Right now Dan and I are both reading an omnibus of the chronicles of amber. He finally lost it and got us bookmarks, as we are reading at completely different paces/places.

        1. Well, of course. The better books aren’t kept there, the hardbacks we buy of our favorites, the good Tolkein, the shiny covered new hotness… We keep the comfort books there. The stuff you can pick up and read for five minutes and then put down again, with your head furniture straightened and dusted under, and all the little knickknacks put back in their places.

          1. I’ve heard that said, but you know, I’ve read the series at least twice, and somehow I can never remember anything that happens after the middle of The Guns of Avalon.

          1. Because time spent waiting without reading is wasted. Time spent reading is productive. Idle hands, mischief, et cetera.

      2. I don’t think that I could ever keep books in the bathroom. I’d worry about germ transmission and (…probably more likely) water damage.

  22. Interesting observations, Sarah. Please get well. I wish you the best luck in focusing on finishing those stories. Beware Facebook.

  23. Based on the title I was a feared we were to be told a story of coyotes and amputations.

    Sounds like that would have been better than some parts of this book.

  24. So, in conclusion, if you’re selling a world view, it’s probably best if it’s so deeply laid-in that you don’t know it’s there. However, if you don’t have that, at least try to hide it in the plot and the playing out of the story.

    I have heard it said–and it appears to be true for my own fiction, that one cannot write without having ones own beliefs about the world influence the picture you paint.

    I have, for instance, from time to time argued that the form government takes has little necessary relationship to the freedom people enjoy under said government. A monarchy where the king leaves people alone either from personal preference or because his powers are limited in some way can be quite free. A democracy can be quite oppressive (and usually gets there eventually).

    So along comes my work on a sequel to “The Hordes of Chanakra” I realized something about the setting. Despite being set in a set of monarchies, there are actually some pretty strong libertarian themes in it. The gods, by policy and for good reason, tend to rule the world with a very light hand. (There’s a myth in-story that explains why, related as a tale from one character to another as a way of chastising him for taking too much blame on himself.) And the main setting ruled by the “good king” does much the same basically as much as possible given the tech and the international situation leaving people alone to live their lives with as little meddling from the crown as possible. While doing some planning, I was wondering how I could justify making the monarchy a relatively free society when I realized that was already built into the world in the literal creation story.

    And I’ve probably rambled enough on this for now.

  25. > If we’re going to break the stranglehold of the left, it is important to know how to keep people who disagree with us (or in this case who think this is from another universe) reading.
    If you’ll ever manage to “convert” a full Manichaean, you’d end up with Augustine – a Manichaean who can pass as something else, but continues to exude the same old poison (but now with different scent additives). It’s not less of a threat, it’s just the same threat made more insidious.
    What’s possible is to warn relatively sane people about the poison and habits of the critter producing it.
    Containment is the first priority – the Loud Minority itself learned this part quite well, BTW.

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