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Secondhand Smoke

A Novel

List Price: $30.95

September 10, 2002 | Hardcover | 5.4 x 8, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781582432175
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"Both funny and sad, this novel deserves the wild popularity it is sure to achieve." —Library Journal

A gorgeous tragicomic novel of working-class New Orleans. Zib and Wilson Bailey — Jerusha’s two grown kids — think the thick cloud of cigarette smoke enveloping their mother is what probably killed their father. Certainly the toxicity of Jerusha Bailey’s dark and cynical attitudes has driven her children far from home. Wilson has escaped to Chicago, married, converted to Judaism, become a professor of Organic Evolution, all of which earns his mother’s scorn. She doesn’t think much of her daughter either: Zib, almost forty, unmarried and directionless, has made it only as far as the Florida Panhandle, where she’s the assistant manager at the local Winn-Dixie and must fight off her boss’s affections. So obliviously isolated is Jerusha, only one person is left in her sights: Dustin Puglia, chubby, wise, and fearless, a ten-year-old living next door with a poisonous mother of his own. The two become attached in this hilarious story of responsibility and blame. Secondhand Smoke is a deeply universal tale of blunt truth and hard-earned redemption.

PATTY FRIEDMANN is the author of the perennial Amazon e-bestseller Too Jewish; her short stories have appeared in Horn Gallery, Short Story, LaLit, Xavier Review, and elsewhere; and she has had essays in Oxford American, Speakeasy, and New Orleans Review. She was included in The Great American Writers Cookbook and Christmas Stories from Louisiana in 2003, as well as in the collections My New Orleans in 2005, Intersections in 2006, Life in the Wake and New Orleans Noir in 2007, and Something in the Water in 2011. In 2009 Oxford American included Secondhand Smoke with Gone With the Wind, Deliverance, and A Lesson Before Dying as one of the 30 Most Underrated Southern Books.

Praise

A Confederacy of Dunces meets The Corrections in Friedmann’s warm and wacky tale of family dysfunction and redemption, set mostly in New Orleans… Both funny and sad, this novel deserves the wild popularity it is sure to achieve.” —Library Journal

“The chronic discontent and over-the-top dysfunction of a Southern working-class family are at the heart of this dark comedy… Friedmann’s characters occasionally seem like caricatures, and the different narrators create an erratic tone overall, but the outrageous developments and swift pace make this novel hard to resist.” —Publishers Weekly

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