Off Magazine Street

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9781596921320: Off Magazine Street

Book by Ronald Everett Capps

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This first novel is short on plot but long on atmosphere. Attempting to meld Tim Sandlin's earthy humor with Barry Gifford's lovable grotesques, Capps gives us two former fair-haired boys, Bobby Long and Byron Burns, now middle-aged and given over completely to drink. After their obese companion dies, her daughter, Hanna, shows up looking for her inheritance. The two former English teachers, sensing Hanna's need for some direction, take her education in hand. In between quoting the poetry of W. H. Auden, steadily swigging cheap vodka, and making pointed sexual comments, the two drunken literature lovers manage to procure for Hanna a scholarship to Tulane. Although the lechery here is played for laughs, it sometimes comes off as creepy, and readers are told once too often that Bobby and Byron are not your garden-variety drunks. Capps is better at evoking a seedy New Orleans, with its fleabag hotels and ramshackle houses. The novel was used as the basis for a script for the movie A Love Song for Bobby Long, starring John Travolta, which could spur interest in the title. Joanne Wilkinson
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Ronald Everett Capps
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