Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Otis Lee Crenshaw: I Blame Society by Rich Hall (4.5/5)

The back says: Married six times, all to women named Brenda, Otis Lee Crenshaw's bourbon-fuelled odyssey takes him from the high mountains of East Tennessee to the bottom of the music charts. A man not above faking his own death to sell more records, this is his not quite true story of romance, recidivism, country music, and an unshakeable belief in Marriage at First Sight.

I say: I’ve already confessed my love for Rich Hall and his writing and it’s only increased after reading this hilariously absurd story about Otis Lee Crenshaw.

I loved it.

Just really loved it.

Otis Lee Crenshaw, a self-professed white trash guy who grew up in a trailer park, is addicted to bourbon and has the eerie ability to fall in love with women named Brenda may be my new favourite anti-hero. Even though he tries, most of the time, to do the right thing it seems as though the world just won’t give him a break. He does a bit of crime, winds up in jail a couple of times, really can’t stop drinking and somehow always seems to get cheated in one way or the other and, as the title explains:

he blames society.

In some instances he is right, but instead of just giving up he always picks himself up and tries something else. More than anything I think I admired his resoluteness, ingenuity and just plain old pride to be a ‘hick’ and trying to show that it doesn’t equate him being a bad person. Also, though you probably wouldn’t think it by looking at him, Otis is really quite intelligent and has that sharp wit that I absolutely adore.

And, having been married 5 times, he has a lot of sound love advice.

And some of the best country music lyrics I’ve ever heard... 

“Women like dinner, women like lunch
Women like roses that come in a bunch
Women like hedges and flowers and trees
But when you’re standin’ behind one they call the police
When I see her there’ll be tears down my face
It might be love or it might be mace

But women call it stalking
Women call it stalking
It’s just selective walking
But women have a tendency to exaggerate
Gonna hug her, gonna mug her, gonna see her some more
Hey judge read the charges just a little bit slower”

And there are a lot of song lyrics to that effect.

Needless to say, I laughed so hard while reading this I cried. Yes, it’s that funny. Rich Hall is such an intelligent and witty writer, I still cannot get over it. He takes these seemingly simple people, puts them in the most absurd situations in a bowl of serious hilarity while sprinkling sage advice and manages to serve it all with a dash of social commentary.

I know, I know, my analogies suck (I was recently discussing Gordon Ramsey with my mother).

Now, even though I think that this is pure comedic perfection, the reason I’m giving it a 4.5/5 is because there were a few clichés and obvious jokes in there that I didn’t expect him to make. But I’m still looking forward to reading more of Hall – he just seems to get better and better.

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