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Praise for Junior Ray

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An explosive little novel with its roots in oral tradition, which recalls Joel Chandler Harris’s The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or, more recently, Gayle Jones’s Eva’s Man.. . . For all its strengths—in particular its right-on rendering of Mississippi Delta dialect, its creativity (most of its characters, like Dickens’s, are aptronymic in that their names signify their personalities), and its voyeuristic impulse—the novel risks alienating readers who prefer conventional plot, detailed exposition, refined society, or who simply don’t like hearing crass directives (“Move, I got to spit”). Notwithstanding, if you can get beyond these peculiarities and devote an afternoon or two to this fine, original piece, you will, I think, be better off for it.
This writer knows the country whereof he speaks, its dialect, its mores and folkways. But this is not sociology. It is primitive fiction of the sort one rarely sees. More's the pity. Underneath this violent language and narrative, there is a sweet truth. It deserves to be read.
Junior Ray runs on a bellylaugh per page. When Junior Ray, a deputy sheriff who makes Flem Snopes sound cultured, sets out to track down a “Maniac” loose in the Mississippi Delta he proves to be more demented than his prey. Like his protagonist, John Pritchard’s novella is outrageous and ribald, a revolt against the literary school of manners and a ride that takes southern gothic to new extremes.
Junior Ray is an unforgettable narrator: hilarious, rowdy, and stubbornly his own. In life you’d cross to the other side of the street to avoid him; in John Pritchard’s delightful fictional debut, you’ll turn the pages to see what that rascal does next.
Junior Ray has taken profanity and made a new language of it, which he uses to tell the often hilarious, often scary, story of life as a poor white in the Mississippi Delta, down its lonely roads and through its dark forests. This book is massively profane and massively politically incorrect. Not for the squeamish or pure at heart.
Although Junior Ray is hateful, he is sometimes very funny and, on occasion, insightful into the class and race workings of Delta society ... Junior Ray will remind one of Faulkner’s Jason Compson. He is venomous, resentful, but sometimes comic in his bitterness, and hates his job as a security guard at a Mississippi casino. As awful as he is, he knows the Delta and the people in it, has watched it every day of his life.
Junior Ray is [John Pritchard’s] first novel, and Brainsong's right: It is not for the squeamish. It is at the opposite end of politically correct. It is an earful. That Junior Ray Loveblood works his way into our sympathy makes it also something of a miracle.
The Mississippi Delta is a nation unto itself, and in this promising debut novel John Pritchard proves that he knows the language and customs of its natives as well as any writer to come along in quite some time ... pitch perfect.
Mississippi state tourist officials won’t be handing this book out anytime soon, though they might be surprised by its effectiveness if they did. As Junior Ray’s pompous interviewer points out, ‘this book is not for the squeamish,’ but its irreverent humor will win over most.
John Pritchard uses his narrator's distinctive voice to comment on how things have changed since the days when ‘Mississippi used to be able to do whatever it wanted to do, until the United States found out about it ... ’ A short, funny novel [with a] colorful narrator for a messy Mississippi tale.
A whizbang of a book—funny, eccentric in that great Southern tradition, pitch-perfect, and beautifully paced. It seems more conducted than written, as if it is some piece of warped musical Americana, the bastard child of Flannery O'Connor and Tom Waits. Junior's voice, while repugnant, is also beguiling, sorrowful—though he doesn't know it—and rich in cracker surealism. And interspersed between Junior's wails is a gentle lyricism, which plays off him beautifully. Many times I smiled, many times I chuckled, and many more times I laughed right out loud. Every page fairly crackles with perverse wit. And then there are plain lovely lines like ‘His mouth is just sort of a safety valve to let air out of his head.’ Wonderful. Finally, what is really palpable in Junior Ray is a sense of place. The book drips with Delta air and brings alive its peculiar, specific population.
Junior Ray ... is a new Southern character worthy of our supreme disdain, and Pritchard’s characterization of him—and the hilarious manner in which the townsfolk thwart his endeavors—manages to perfectly capture the spirit of a time we love to hate.
Junior Ray is a novel about understanding the unloveable.
John Pritchard has brought to life one of the most tangible, offensive, realistic and rascally characters to ever step out of a 1950s Delta patrol car.
[Junior Ray is] a Southern redneck tour-de-force -- a dark and telling comedy, not for the squeamish.
Allow us the awkward pleasure of introducing Junior Ray Loveblood, the most profane, most despicable, and funniest protagonist you are likely to encounter this year. For all Junior Ray’s ugly talk, the writing here is beautifully crafted. Providing counterpoint to Junior Ray’s perfectly calibrated invective, Pritchard sprinkles the narrative with Leland Shaw’s heartbreaking journal entries about being hunted by Nazis—a haunting touch that, given Junior Ray’s moral grounding, isn’t that deluded ... while not for the squeamish, [Junior Ray] deserves shelf space beside the best southern literature—even if it makes its neighbors blush.