It didn’t take long for the Seventh of July to turn into the kind of day that Marshboro would remember for a long, long time. Just after midnight Charles Husky, late-night clerk at the Quik Pik just off the Interstate, was found lying face-down by the Slurpee machine, suffocated with Saran Wrap. The unsolved murder, and the ensuing events of the next twenty-four hours, propel us into the life of this small North Carolina town in a delightful novel of rich comedy and meaningful action.
Ordinary chance has dumped Sam Swett, aged twenty-one, in the Quik PIk at the time of the murder. Same has shaved his head, given away all his belongings except his typewriter; he’s drunker than he’s ever been, and running as fast as he can from his family and upper-middle class upbringing. Chance, too, deposits Harold Weeks in the back room, passed out from the effects of another bad night after leaving his wife Juanita Suggs Weeks.
Soon we meet Juanita, the unforgettable, sexy electrologist who loves Harold passionately, even if she did make a big mistake in the little room behind the meat counter at the Winn Dixie. There is also Ernie Stubbs, who has Made It into the most expensive subdivision in town, but isn’t far from his upbringing on Injun Street as he imagines; and Corky Revels, the strange, timid waitress at the Coffee Shop whose sorrowful past keeps her from present happiness—until, maybe, this unusual summer day.
Two of the most remarkable presences in the novel are Granner Weeks and Fannie McNair, a black housekeeper. These women, holding their families together with tough persistence, know instinctively that people learn to live by living with each other—fighting, loving, in each others’ ways and each others’ hearts.
It’s a lesson that Sam and Corky, Harold and Juanita begin to learn. More importantly, it’s a lesson that we learn as we laugh and grieve and love with the rich cast of characters that Jill McCorkle, with a deft, masterly hand, introduces us to in this unusual, unforgettable novel.
“A book big-hearted enough to embrace a whole small town.” —New York Times Book Review