ICED TEA AND IGNORANCE by Howard Lewis Russell


Email this review


A badly botched effort from Russell (Rush to Nowhere, 1988)--in which an aggressively eccentric little band of friends idles away their empty hours in Birmingham, Alabama, playing hide-and-seek with a dead baby. The cast of up-to-date, New Southern, self-absorbed wackies assembled here consists of Sheba Eagles, a grossly fat young woman keen on exhibitionism and running her mouth; Brent Eagles, a beautiful but deeply dumb homosexual with an eye on Hollywood; death-obsessed Jack Roe; and Raine Freeman, a brilliant young man who, when he is not being led around by his friends, enjoys rereading children's classics. These thoroughly unpleasant people all work at a garish country restaurant where the theme is live jungle birds; attend classes at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and sunbathe in front of their apartment building. Their idyllic existence becomes unbearably exciting when Cyra--Raine's sister who has handled her secret pregnancy by becoming fat and then letting the baby die--dumps the babe in the garbage. Cyra's baby, brought to the friends in the jaws of a neighborhood stray dog named Beowulf, and then wrapped up as a Christmas present, becomes the source of weeks and weeks of fun as the friends hide the baby from Cyra, lose the baby to Cyra, recover the baby, lose the baby some more, and talk and talk about how exciting it all is. Somewhere in the process stupid Brent disappears. Is he dead or has he finally gone to L.A.? And how did Cyra get pregnant in the first place? Could it have anything to do with the time she threw her brother's life work off the Empire State Building? Oh, by the way, there's an apocalyptic message stuck in with the baby business. Madcap southern gothics have their place, but they have to be very, very funny. Here, what is meant to be black humor falls dreadfully flat time after time.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1989
ISBN: 1-55611-094-4
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online: