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Free music - Best of 2009






Fannie Flagg

So everyone has an Achilles heel - liking somebody they really shouldn't. Fannie Flagg is my weakness. To me nobody writes books about small time American life like Fannie.

Of course the name is made up. Fannie was actually born Patricia Neal but changed her name because there was already an actress by that name (who I believe was married at one time to Roald Dahl).

Fannie is pretty well known in America but relatively unknown this side of the pond. In the States she has acted, written and presented Candid Camera and is also a stand up comedienne and a quiz sow panellist amongst many other things.

She is probably still best known for her book  Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe for which she also wrote the screenplay.

Over a series of books which started with Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man in 1992 and run through to Can't Wait to Get to Heaven in 2006 she chronicles small town America like nobody I have ever come across. Her books and characters may at times be a little too good to be true, but there is no denying that towns and people depicted in her novels are probably truer to the real American dream than super heroes.

Many of the characters run through a number of the books which gives you a feeling of meeting old friends. These are the kind of people you  would just like to hitch up to and share a beer or glass of wine on the porch.

I read the books long before I started my review sections on the web site but it is my intention to re-visit them in order in the near future. Another of my favourite books is Peyton Place which gives us the harsher reality of American small town life. There is a place for both styles and they are equally as powerful as each other.

Fannie's books to date are:


1992 Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
1997 Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
1999 Welcome to the World Baby Girl
2002 Standing in the Rainbow
2004 A Redbird Christmas
2006 Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

Individual Books Reviewed:

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven - Fannie Flagg - 24


Everyone has weak spots when it comes to literature. I love the stories of Fannie Flagg or Patricia Neal to give her real name. Ever since I read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe I have been a fan.


On the surface Flagg's books have a naive feel to them, but underneath they make a whole host of comments about human nature. By and large her characters are hometown Americans - the salt of the earth. Her books always see good prevail and at times the people are just too good to be true.


But her observations are very sharp and there is wit and humanity running through them all. Last year I found A Redbird Christmas just a little too sentimentally cloying. Can't Wait to Get to Heaven finds a better balance - never becoming over mawkish. I have to day that at one point I did begin to struggle when the main character "dies" and is ushered into the presence of a God who looks surprisingly like a former neighbour. Here the tale stretched reality just too thinly.


Thankfully after skating on the brink, the story pulls itself back to life - just as the main character does. It is essentially the story of Elner Shimfissle, a minor character in some of the previous Flagg novels. One day she falls out of a fig tree, is certified dead at the hospital, meets God, and comes back to life. Yes I know it sounds ridiculous but Flagg just about gets away with it.


The rest of the novel introduces us to many already well known characters from the world of Elmwood Springs and relates just how Elner touched their lives and there is also a mystery story in how peace loving Elner came to have a gun and what the secret is behind it.


As with most of Flagg's books all loose ends are tied up and you get to a point in this novel where you realise that process is just beginning. Although the storyline of this might be more implausible than in many of her novels there is no doubting that once again Flagg has come up with an easy to read moralistic story of everyday country folk.