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Adventures In the Book Trade

Posted: Jun 06, 2007


Down on Moreland Avenue at A Cappella’s—located in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood—this Indie outlet serves as a landmark bookstore. Within walking distance of many esoteric shops, bars, ethnic restaurants, the great record store Wax-N-Fax, and the venerable Variety Playhouse, A Cappella sells new, used and obscure books never found in your mainstream, strip-mall bookstores.

Browsing the aisles, one can find a plethora of southern writers. On today’s summer reading list let me suggest one book from Paul Hemphill (The Good Old Boys), Stanley Booth (Rythm Oil), Harry Crews (Feast of Snakes), Jim Thompson (A Hell of a Woman), James Lee Burke (Half of Paradise), William Faulkner (The Hamlet), Zora Neale Hurston (Mules and Men), Cormac McCarthy (Suttree), Flannery O’Connor (Wise Blood), Tennessee Williams (27 Wagons Full of Cotton), and Larry Brown (Billy Ray’s Farm). Of course, A Cappella houses plenty of non-southern scribes like Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, and T.C.Boyle. By the way, Cormac McCarthy’s interview on Oprah aired yesterday…

Summer awakens in Atlanta. A bohemian undercurrent pulls on this boulevard. The girls are out in their summer clothes…incense float in the air, and you can hear music in the distance. There will be a quiz later on the aforementioned writers…so do your homework.

For fun, I thought I’d reprint Harry Crews’ indelible rattlesnake recipe for y’all to hold onto until this winter:

“Take one diamondback rattlesnake. (Fifteen feet of garden hose, a little gasoline in a capped jar, a crockersack and a long stick will be all you need to take the snake. On a cold day, 32 degrees or colder, find the hole of a gopher—the Southerner’s name for a land tortoise. Run the hose down the hole until it is all the way to the bottom. Pour a teaspoon of gasoline into the hose. Cover the end of the hose with your mouth and blow. Shortly, the rattlesnake will wander out of the hole. Put the stick in the middle of his body, pick him up and drop him in the sack. On the way home, don’t sling the sack over your shoulder, and generally try not to get stuck through the cloth.)
Gut and skin the snake. No particular skill is needed for either job. Cut off the head six inches behind the eyes. Cut off the tail 12 inches above the last rattle. Rip him open along the stomach and take out everything you see. Peel him like a banana, using a pair of pliers as you would to skin a catfish. Cut the snake into one-inch steaks. Soak in vinegar for ten minutes. Drain and dry. Sprinkle with hot sauce, any of the brands out of New Iberia, Louisiana. Roll in flour and deep fry, being careful not to overcook. Salt to taste and serve with whatever you ordinarily eat with light, delicate meat.
Figure one snake per guest. Always better to have too much than too little when you’re eating something good.”

Harry's recipes are more interesting reading than most of the articles in the papers these days. Anyway, check back in a few days…until then…be particular…

James Calemine

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