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.
James Whorton Jr. is the author of two other novels, Approximately Heaven and Frankland. A former Mississippian and former Tennessean, he lives in Rochester, New York with his wife and their daughter. He is an Associate Professor of writing and literature at SUNY Brockport.
Jauntily entertaining...a picaresque novel and an often funny exploration of slacker consciousness...works the same deadpan comic vein as the Coen brothers in Fargo." -- The New York Times Book Review
"A kinder, gentler Confederacy of Dunces.... The success of a novel like this rests on the tenor of its narrator's voice, and Whorton hits that right on.... If you're looking for something more hysterical than historical, Whorton has a nice, light touch." -- The Christian Science Monitor
"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." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A winning second novel.... Warm characterization, quiet but exuberantly sly wit and a winning narrator add up to a thoroughly enjoyable escapade." -- Publishers Weekly