Funny Roy Blount Jr. (Camels Are Easy, Comedy's Hard, 1991; First Hubby, 1990; etc.), now 55 and a bachelor grandfather,...


BE SWEET: A Conditional Love Story

Funny Roy Blount Jr. (Camels Are Easy, Comedy's Hard, 1991; First Hubby, 1990; etc.), now 55 and a bachelor grandfather, reckons it's time to take stock of his life. The inventory he produces, no surprise, is nicely written. More than that, it's The Inside Skinny on Roy and his coming to terms with what he perceives as a curse. It has to do with his family, inevitably, and his ambivalent, close connection to his mother in particular, who regularly adjured her son to ""be sweet."" Roy Senior was a solid citizen, a rock of Decatur, Ga. Mama was a lady burdened with a sad childhood. Young Roy's birth, she made him know, nearly killed her and laid on him the biggest maternal guilt trip in the gentile world. Actually, though his parents may not have been extraordinary in life, Blount makes them so in memory, with writerly filial recollection. His memory, reliable or not, is powerful. ""I remember discovering my feet,"" he says and follows the assertion with some nice pages. In his search for a defining moment and what it was that turned him comical, Blount unloads a lot about many things, including a little etymology, a visit to China, baseball and sports writing, his marriages, children, and friends, and, bravely, women in general. There's a nice essay on being funny and an exegesis on the state of juniorhood. True, he may maunder some and wax a tad prolix, but it's surely a flow of entertaining words. The Latin motto on his stationery, he warns us, is ""Si legetis, scribam. If you'll read it, I'll write it."" Perhaps not since Sophocles was working has there been such angst about Mama, but Blount's autobiography is fashioned by a talented writer at the top of his game; and it is real sweet, too.

Pub Date: June 5, 1998


Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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