The Backside of Nowhere

The Backside of Nowhere - Alec Clayton "Backside of Nowhere" is a fascinating book for Alec Clayton, that court jester and storyteller of the deep South, who now hails from my hometown of Olympia, Washington. It is fascinating, because instead of sticking to the "straight" family dramas that fill many of his other books, Clayton adds the perspective of David Lawrence, and erstwhile film star who is back in the bayou country for a season. His experience outside of Mississippi is a telling contrast, and also an aspirational world that many strive for there. David's life and family history in the country is the backdrop for a story of family ties that strain to breaking, small town corruption, racial tensions that are (pretty overtly) expressed, and a variety of clever observations about the culture and families of the Mississippi bayou country. In the end, I felt like I'd spent a season myself in that humid territory.The story itself reminds me of a classic "This American Life" episode, where another movie star -- a real one -- comes to a small town and interesting things happen. The small town where this actor went in real life is nowhere near as interesting as Clayton's imaginary one, but the stories seem complementary. Here's the This American Life story and the episode