It's Laugh Out Loud Funny
Naked and Hungry
By Ashley Memory
Ingalls Publishing Group,
BY RUTH MOOSE
Special to The Pilot
Read "Naked and Hungry," and if you don't laugh out loud at least a hundred times, have somebody call the nearest undertaker.
Ashley Memory writes funny, funny stuff.
Her characters are just ordinary, good country people, who get themselves in the darndest messes and then more messes trying to get out of them.
H.T. McMullen, former banker, former everything, who gave up the world, built a tin shack out of scrounged scraps and thought he could play Thoreau in Yatesville, Memory's own Yoknapatawpa County ... only funnier.
H.T (Henry Thaddeus ... but only his mama calls him that), was one of those "bad boys" everyone warned girls about in high school: "sexy and good looking." The kind of guy who either goes to jail or becomes a preacher - or both. And he means well.
When he pulls a purple fish from a Yatesville pond, reports it to the EPA, someone starts shooting at him. And his dog!
And what a dog! Shorty, which is short for Shortsell, which H.T. lost out when he sold his early Starbucks stock believing that nobody in their right mind would pay $4 for a cup of coffee.
That's H.T.'s kind of luck.
Between Shorty, who gets loose from the vet, adopted from the pound and finally corralled, and Mama, former 1957 Miss Blackberry of Yatesville, H.T. has supporting characters who give him a run for the laughs. Not to mention the other women in his life: Celeste Snipes, "the town's leading socialite," who is married to H.T's former boss and current villain and always looking to put another notch on her garter belt.
Then there's Jessica Beane of the Grassroots Environmental Coalition who shows up at H.T.'s remote cabin.
"H.T. was struck by how the morning sun gilded her auburn curls."
She wears a heart locket, but no wedding band. Is H.T.'s life finally looking up?
The pace picks up from here and never, never stops.
"Naked and Hungry" is a roller coaster of a reading ride. You can't predict who is going to end up where and with whom! And the end is warm, wonderful when H.T. says, "Having a lot of money is nothing more than a recipe for misery," and his mama retorts, "Well, you ought to be in ecstasy then. You're flat broke."
The only thing I wanted when I finished reading (and still laughing) was the recipes for blackberry crepes and Mama's potato salad.
Ashley Memory grew up in Asheboro. "Naked and Hungry" was a finalist in the James Jones First Novel Fellowship.
Ruth Moose is a longtime reviewer for The Pilot.
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