Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Byron Lane

Pub Date: May 30th, 2023
ISBN: 9781250267146
Publisher: Henry Holt

In rural Louisiana, a conservative Christian mom tries to get her mind around hosting the fabulous nuptials required by her son’s marriage.

It’s a long way from New Orleans to the Polite Society Ranch, where Chrissy Durang is getting through one more school bus full of little field trippers as she awaits the arrival of her adored son, Barnett, who’s returning, she’s sure, to take the reins of the old homestead. But to her unhappy surprise, Barnett is not coming to assume responsibility for the blind chicken, the alpaca with alopecia, and the beloved dying goat, Elaine (who will be buried near her late compadres, Seinfeld, Kramer, and George). Instead, he’s coming to announce that he’s getting married, and he has fiance Ezra on his arm. The story spirals from there in two directions. In the hilarious one, Ezra’s mother, Victoria, “the alcoholic’s alcoholic, the silver-tongued complainer who only flies first-class,” and event-planner sister, Nichole, show up to organize the blessed event, planning to transform the farm into “a modern gay wonderland” with a gazebo, a brigade of fireflies, rainbow-sashed valet parkers, and more—though no separate chef for the animals, Nichole pouts, “because that guy turned out to be a fictional character from a New Yorker article I misread.” In a more serious aspect of the plot, highlighted by chapter headings that give the “Countdown to Damnation,” rigid Chrissy is unable to accept her son’s sexuality, his partner, or his plans—until finally, the virulent homophobia of her neighbors awakens a protective response. Actually, the opening of Chrissy’s mind begins when she eats several foil-wrapped packages of chocolate she finds in Ezra’s luggage that turn out to be infused with magic mushrooms. Lane's sophomore effort is over-the-top in so many clashing ways—like Schitt’s Creek meets The Laramie Project—but simpatico readers will likely throw reservations to the wind and go all in.

Come for the Applebee’s-sponsored rehearsal dinner and stay for the extended journey of a goat into the next life.