TO THE WINDS by Madison Jones


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 Born-and-bred southerner Jones, author of six previous novels (Last Things, 1989, etc.), imparts an authentic redneck flavor to this way overplotted but nonetheless amusing tale of one family's woes and ultimate downfall in the Appalachian foothills. It's the 1950s, and just outside Riverton, in eastern Tennessee, the Moss family is trying to make ends meet--or at least some of them are. Partly the trouble is that everyone for miles around sees the family as worthless white trash; partly it's also that out of them all--Mama, Daddy, and the eight kids--only Mama, Eve, Coop, and Chester (who narrates) have any sense at all. Daddy's a dimwit and full of lame-brained, money-making schemes; Dud and Stack are lumbering fools; Mabel and Dorcas have hardly a brain between them; and Bucky is in fact brain-damaged (though he's the only one of the Moss men who earns any money). Chester wants more out of life for himself and his siblings, as do Coop and Mama, but clearly the cards are stacked against them. Then, after long- lost Uncle Clarence shows up and is promptly murdered by the relentless Sheriff Tipps (whose hatred of the Moss family is never fully explained), an even steeper downward spiral of trouble begins. Dorcas, the only beautiful Moss sister, falls in with the wrong crowd and ends up pregnant; Stack becomes an example at the evil hand of Tipps; and even Coop winds up in big trouble when the death of the fortune-teller Madame Shula is pinned firmly on him. By the time the Moss family lose their farm, even Chester's hopes have dwindled, and the story ends with a whimper as the surviving Mosses either move into a dismal trailer or flee the scene. Jones manages to make what could be just another quirky-white- trash-characters assembly-line output into a flawed but often funny novel worth reading for laughs, if not enlightenment.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1996
ISBN: 1-56352-278-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Longstreet
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996