Whorton is one of those rare authors I read and lose the sensation of turning pages, slipping into his quirky worlds past the printed page. Here he creates a kind of redneck "Alice in Wonderland," each character more startling and vivid than the last. But what most surprises is how deeply Whorton causes you to care about--and cheer on--these fragmented but tenacious and hopeful personalities.
With his offbeat sense of humor and down-home Southern sensibility, James Whorton has been compared to luminaries such as John Kennedy Toole and Carson McCullers. He sharpens his cutting wit to a keen edge in Frankland, following the misadventures of a wannabe academic who goes hunting for a secret history and gets much more than he bargained for. John Tolley is a bumbling college dropout who yearns to become a bowtie-wearing, pipe-smoking historian. When he hears that Andrew Johnson's lost papers may have been preserved by an heir in Tennessee, he grabs his tweed jacket and heads south, convinced that he'll discover the key to a groundbreaking biography on the seventeenth U.S. president and the start of a respectable career. But things start to go awry when his car breaks down in the town of Pantherville, Tennessee. Tolley rents a decrepit shack owned by a neurotic ex-con and is soon sucked into a world of cockfights, coon dogs, and the politics of Pantherville's good old boys. Surrounded by folks as eccentric as he is, including an alluringly shy mail carrier named Dweena, Tolley starts to feel at home -- even if his quest for academic glory might just prove to be a wild goose chase. Native and newcomer, highbrow and hillbilly cross paths and tangle hilariously in this wry and ribald tale.
Kirkus reviews A comedy of misunderstandings blooms to perfection in Whorton's enchanting and erudite caper, set in hillbilly Eastern Tennessee....Whorton's deadpan comic genius exploits misunderstandings for laugh- out-loud results....A joy.
Publishers Weekly Warm characterization, quiet but exuberantly sly wit and a winning narrator add up to a thoroughly enjoyable escapade.
Martin Clark, author of The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living and Plain Heathen Mischief Thoughtful, subversive, wry, and remarkably funny, Frankland is boisterous, bigtime entertainment in the tradition of John Kennedy Toole, Mark Twain, and Eudora Welty. A fine effort from a talented writer.
"A winning second novel.... Warm characterization, quiet but exuberantly sly wit and a winning narrator add up to a thoroughly enjoyable escapade." -- Publishers Weekly