5 ½ x 8 ½
Published in 2008
Junior Ray Loveblood, one of the most outrageous and original personalities to appear in American literature in many years, returns in The Yazoo Blues, the sequel to John Pritchard’s Junior Ray. Now semi-retired, Loveblood works as a security guard in one of the floating casinos that have replaced cotton as the cash crop in the Mississippi Delta.
In his spare time, Junior Ray has become obsessed with the ill-fated Yazoo Pass expedition by a Union armada up the Mississippi River in 1863. He relates dual stories, both that of a soldier slowly driven mad by the haunting countryside, and of Loveblood’s friend Mad Owens, whose search for existential love meets its greatest challenge in the arms of the stripper Money Scatters. Loveblood’s conclusions are hilarious, absurd, and at times intensely revealing.
Equally profane and profound, the fictional narrator of Pritchard’s novel illuminates the complex stew of evolving race relations, failed economies, and corrupt politics that define much of the post-civil rights rural Deep South.
“Pritchard again indulges the profanely backwoods, occasionally backwards, voice of Mississippi ‘good ol’ boy’ Junior Ray Loveblood. [Loveblood’s] account of a failed Union naval expedition at Yazoo Pass on the Mississippi River also includes the story of his research expedition, with his friend Mad Owens, to the Magic Pussy Cabaret & Club ‘up in Meffis.’ Each interwoven story is as surprising and strong as Junior Ray himself, who conjures a surreal scene of ironclads logjammed in a bayou as colorfully as he recounts a backroom lap dance from his best friend’s granddaughter Petunia. Between expletives and misanthropic digressions, Junior Ray reveals a lifetime of deep, unlikely friendships, even getting at an occasional truth in a humble manner that’s—as Junior Ray might put it—‘as soft as a quail’s fart.’ ” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“John Pritchard has given the Delta the kind of thorough and insightful historian it has needed for so long. If this book doesn’t make you laugh a lot and maybe think at least a little, I’m guessing you’re not from around here.” —James C. Cobb, author of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity
“Darkly comic, profound and original, The Yazoo Blues stakes out Pritchard’s territory on the rough side of Southern Literature.” —William Gay, author of Twilight