Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Beulah Shot Her Pistol Inside the Baptist Church by Clayton Sullivan

From the Book Jacket:Raised in the Primitive Baptist Church, teenage Beulah Buchanan marries the much older deacon Ralph Rainey to escape from her oppressive parents, thus jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Over the next six years, Beulah works in her domineering husband’s cafe and cooks him dinner at home every night, dutifully attends church, and lets herself be led into an affair with the preacher. When she embarrasses her husband by not cooking enough food for the ravenous visiting revival preacher, Ralph “chastises” Beulah with his belt. When he tries to beat her again, she fights back and locks him in the cooler at his cafe.
Why Beulah Shot Her Pistol Inside the Baptist Church is a new take on the Southern Gothic tragedy, told in Beulah’s innocently hilarious voice. Beulah evokes the Southern women of Clyde Edgerton’s Raney and Mark Childress’s Crazy in Alabama, but is a totally original and winning character, a young woman breaking free.

Quote from the book: By five o'clock I was back in the kitchen cookin' full speed ahead. I was cookin' like I was Betty Crocker. I knew the preachers would turn up at the house at six o'clock.

My thoughts: The title of this book made me laugh so I checked the blurb and bought it. I've chosen to read more than one book just because of the title. I was prepared to like this book and was looking forward to reading it, I wanted to know just WHY did Beulah even have a pistol at the Baptist church. I really do like reading southern literature.

Beulah tells her story in first person to the reader. At times she is funny, sometimes darkly so. She tells the story of her life in rural Mississippi, marriage to an older man, domestic violence, and hypocrisy in her church. She was a sympathetic character, a 16 year old in a loveless marriage being used and abused. She should have listened to her mother. Her life with Ralph was nothing but misery as her mother had predicted. For six years Beulah works for and serves her cold hypocrite of a husband. Then the preacher starts calling, after Ralph is gone to work. He cons her as surly as Ralph did with the sweet words she craves. It breaks her heart to finally learn this.

Since she was raised in the church, and the author is a retired minister, I did not expect her language to be so very crude. Yikes. It was way out of character for an overprotected church girl. The constant repetition, (Beulah kept saying the same thing 3 or 4 different ways) was annoying. It was strange that she could repeat the F word and the P word without hesitation them apologize for saying hell. Go figure.
I don't know whether to recommend this or not. I liked the story but the language really put me off.

Hardcover: 238 pages
Publisher: NewSouth (October 30, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1588381676
ISBN-13: 978-1588381675


Hannah said...

I think the message that domestic violence happens within the church is important. I can certainly understand your dislike of the language, but maybe it was part of her environment.

Have you read, "Behind the Hedge" by Waneta Dawn? It doesn't have the swear words, and it also speaks of the subject matter you mentioned. Its more of an amish background I believe. Its an excellent book!

Wanda said...

The title and the cover both caught my eye in my reader. Crazy in Alabama was a favourite from a few years back, if this one compares I think I'd like to give it a go. Foul language in literature doesn't bother me so much though it can definitely make me uncomfortable in real life situations.

Thanks for the review, Sharon!