CONFESSIONS OF A FAILED SOUTHERN LADY by Florence King

CONFESSIONS OF A FAILED SOUTHERN LADY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With another acidulous barrage of jibes at Southern sexual mating dances and WASP ways in general, King (Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, WASP Where Is Thy Sting?) here traces--more astringently than usual--her own rake's progress to what eventually became a satisfying lesbian persuasion. After all, with the outsize Southern worship of femininity, lesbianism ""makes women feels like just plain folks."" King capers through her early exposure to the Southern lady myth, and its flip side--beginning with the courtship of her parents: Mother, given to purple oaths and baseball, and father Herb, a slum Englishman of wisdom and erudition. They met while Grandmother was doing the Statue of Liberty at a Daughters of the Confederacy ball: ""Give me your tard, your poah. . ."" ("" 'Who's that old bat?"" Herb whispered. 'My Mother, love.' "") Florence survived Grandmother's Southern Lady preoccupations with uterine troubles (dubbed ""the Ovariad"" by Herb), silver (the ""proudest possession""), and never-smoke-on-the-street. Moving up through the grades, she skewered learning games: ""my name is Lizzie Borden."" ""Stop,"" cried the teacher. She forged ahead in high school, only to land in a Z-rate college (education for women, said the jolly president, ""makes a better wife and mother""). She tried a stretch in the Marines, where one of the first lectures was on applying lipstick and nail polish. She went on to Ole Miss and, after an affair with a male professor (a ""glorious melee""), found real lesbian love (explicitly described) with ""Bres""--grand-champ of the small group of campus bohemians. (Southern bohemians ""never quite make it"": one's Tropic of Capricorn was marked with an ""I Know That My Redeemer Liveth"" bookmark.) Her love affair over, Florence muses on the best and worst of one belle and a Good Ole Boy: both in their way killers, but both a comfort in times of misery. Southern womanhood hyperbolized and shaken down--for most of King's old audience, and a prospective new one.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 1984
ISBN: 0312050631
Publisher: St. Martin's