James D McCallister
When cuckolded ‘fruitshake’ millionaire Roy Earl Pettus inherits his grandfather’s fabled honkytonk, The Dixiana, he hurtles into full-prodigal-son mode: once the Bossman arrives back home in Edgewater County, South Carolina, he’s set to fix all that’s wrong with his hometown and its citizens. Whether they want his leadership, however, is another matter.
Roy’s hippy-dippy cousin Button Sykes, on a higher consciousness trip fraught with the urge to serve, and with a little added magicking, spellcraft and telepathy to goose matters along, seems the only one able to stave off the full destructive power of Roy’s tremendous, wounded ego. He fancies himself a fixer, but guess who’s the one most in need of spiritual repair? If only Button weren’t so preoccupied with her own broken heart, she’d give Roy’s problems more of her attention.
Through the eyes of a dozen major characters, we track the progress not only of Roy’s existential journey and Button’s quest to reconnect with her lost love Heather, but examine a few risky sexual affairs among the powerful; controversial and divisive political machinations; conflict over a Confederate monument both reviled and revered; Southern-fried organized crime figures who don’t take well to Roy’s fresh ideas; the disposal of a dead body or two; and even a pyromaniac of a ghost who occasionally burns down the town.
A finalist for the 2015 Faulkner-Wisdom Literary Competition award, the Dixiana series represents a Neo-Southern Gothic ‘great American novel’ for the mid-to-late 2010s, one filled with humor, tragedy, appeals to a higher power, and a troubled character crashing a plane into a building. Dixiana holds its many characters in states teetering on the edge of either grace or ruin, and by the end, readers may not believe how far the story takes them—all the way to one possible ‘other side’ of reality.