Farcical first novel by a native son follows the rollicking, drunken, mildly amusing inhabitants of Charleston, S.C., as their peninsula slips out to sea.
Thanks to “the sheer weight of humanity,” Charleston secedes successfully from the mainland one day in May. But it’s barely noticed, due to the simultaneous presence in town of three massive conventions: the Sportsman’s Jamboree, the Bravado Festival for the arts and Tri-County Mini-Storage Convention. Geer tracks the collision of various colorful members of these organizations, representing old families, arrivistes, the detested Cumyahs (tourists) and those from the mudflats. At 2 Bay Street, long-time “old-blood” resident Elizabeth Hathaway, who has had to endure the recent “interior desecrating” of the house next door by an Arizona Cumyah and absentee owner, reluctantly agrees to put up two of her relatives during the turbulent week. The first is her fop of a son, Parker, an artist of some stripe who usually lives in Savannah but wouldn’t miss the unveiling of Abel Horfner’s monumental sculpture in Calhoun Square, especially since it gives him a chance to meet New York Times journalist Carolina Gabrel, subject of his long-distance infatuation for many years. Elizabeth’s other guest is her repugnant son-in-law, Bubby McGraw, who represents the Fellowship of Evangelical Sportsmen (“Hunters for Jesus”). When Horfner’s statue of an enormous black phallus is unveiled, all hell breaks loose as a lynching party sets out in pursuit of the artist and festival organizer Harry Biddencope. Meanwhile, at the exclusive Atlantic Club, Commodore Harold Crumfield and his clutch of ancient mariners engineer the further severance of upper peninsula from lower. Ultimately, the arrogant, demented lower half lands in the Canary Islands, securing its comeuppance, while the upper, more democratic half washes up in Plymouth, England, and is renamed the Isle of Good Faith.
Implausible, but a good romp with plenty of characters who ring true. Certain to provoke regional hilarity.