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The cafeteria lady at my school loved Salem Lights. Do you think some of the judgments about Polly are generational? Dalton is Willow’s childhood best friend who becomes her boyfriend when they grow older. This is a warm and fresh tale.” –Publishers Weekly “The Book of Polly has heart and humor, revenge, forgiveness, redemption and a larger than life cast of pitch-perfect characters who bring to mind such Southern literary standard-bearers as Lee Smith and Fannie Flagg.I’d see her outside in her smock, smoking up a storm. She came back thin and pale, hair net pulled over a bald head as she served us spaghetti. They announced her death over the intercom, and everyone got free onion rings. “You never know when the Bear might strike.” Polly never used the word cancer. She perked up, struck it again.“No, Mom,” I said pleadingly, but it was too late. Should Polly be judged by the modern standards of parenting? What do you think is special about these kinds of evolving relationships? Throughout the novel, Willow attempts to rescue Polly from the clutches of the Bear, Phoenix and Shel come to Polly and Willow’s rescue on the rafting trip, and against all odds Polly rescues Elmer from a storm. There seems to be a lot of drama around Polly’s cooking—for example, Thanksgiving dinner or the time she invited the neighbors over to discuss the fence. Get ready to fall in love.” --Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders“I am wildly in love with The Book of Polly.So, he basically is a human form of Ego the planet. #TBT I seem to be wearing two shirts, a waistcoat and a jacket in this #ott fashion shot from the mid 1960s.Hidden away is a marvelous gold Vacheron Constantin watch. funny and poignant.” --People With a kick like the best hot sauce, this is the laugh-out-loud story of a girl determined to keep up with her aging, crazy-as-a-fox mother"If you ever pined for a mother who would take a hunting falcon as her wingman to a parent-teacher conference, Polly is the gal for you.She was in her late fifties when Willow was born, so Willow knows she’s here by accident, a late-life afterthought.
“My uncle had the hinder Bear,” she said delicately. But they cut it out of him and he was okay for a few years, ’til he had a heart attack while leaning over a rain barrel and drowned.”When I was eight years old, my third-grade teacher told us about the Great American Smokeout. This was nothing; it was only a desperate gesture of love and rage. She withdrew a bent cigarette and tried to straighten it, but gave up. She cast a glance at me, but something in my expression caused the glee to leave her face. What is it about food that adds humor to a dark situation? Was Polly right to shield Willow from her personal history? In some ways, Phoenix seems to be an almost saintlike, protective presence around Willow and Polly. How does his involvement affect the dynamics of the family? Polly and her neighbor have a contentious relationship, but after the night he dies she admits in a weak moment that she “kind of liked the old bastard.” How is it possible to have feelings of warmth toward a dreaded enemy? This is a purely wonderful book about growing up, about growing old, about never going gently into any kind of night.
Kathy Hepinstall grew up in Spring, Texas, near the Louisiana border. Chapter One What tormented me most, even more than Polly’s secrets, were her cigarettes.
Polly is based, in part, on Kathy’s own mother, who has as wicked a tongue as her fictional counterpart. I’d seen the black lungs in ads, and pictured Polly’s lungs, already old, already threadbare, quivering in the smoky cloud of each puff like doomed soldiers in the trench of her chest.
The morning ofthe Great American Smokeout, an event that held zero interest for Polly, I hid her last packet of Virginia Slims. Polly had worked as a cashier at Walgreens ever since my father died. I had my prized lunch box and was ready to go.“Where are mycigarettes? ”“I have to go toschool.”I opened the front door, letting in a fall breeze and the murmurs of the kids at the bus stop.“You’re not going anywhere,” Polly said.“But, Mom, I have perfect attendance! A line had appeared in her skin between her eyebrows, like a twitching nerve rising to the surface. “The parents are supposed to die before the child and everyone starts bitching soon as it happens. ” I stood perfectly still, stone faced, lest my body or expression give away when Polly was getting warm. I didn’t want to be alone, a single blue egg in a crumbling nest.“Damn it,” Polly mumbled. You damn kid.”Finally she slumped down at the out-of-tune piano in the hallway. Something in my posture or expression must have tipped her off because her eyes squinted and took on a hooded look and then she turned from me, gazing at the piano. Can superstition be a good thing as well as a bad thing? Polly hates varmints, and yet she nurtures Elmer, the baby squirrel, in secret. Delicious." --Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama “Hilarious and heartfelt, I wanted to wrap my arms round this book and hug it—I loved every page.” --Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet “With a drink in one hand, a shotgun in the other, the inimitable Polly Havens can steer a raft through a swamp and decimate squirrels in her garden with ruthless aplomb, with time left over for all-out war with her youngest child.
She confronted me before school in her Walgreens smock, her name tag dangling from a cord she worearound her neck.“Willow,” she said. ”“I don’t know.”Her eyebrow arched.“Don’t you lie, Willow.”I looked at her defiantly. Some damn fool who doesn’t even smoke made up a holiday? ”“Well that’s your problem and you can fix it in two shakes of a rat’s tail if you just tell me where you hid my cigarettes.”I turned around, but left the door open. I could hear the bus rumbling down the block, coming closer. I hated Polly at that moment, but not enough to capitulate. ”We held each other’s gaze as the bus groaned to a stop and I heard the creak of the doors opening. The bus eased away and there was silence.“You know, in my day, girls who missed school grew up to be tramps. Forcing your poor old mother to drive to the store and restock.”“I’m trying to keep you from dying! I heard her back in my bedroom, swearing, jerking opening drawers. She struck the middle C and it clanged in its off-tune fashion.