Vy but on August 6 1890 the smell of honeysuckle flowers in the air and the taste of apple pulp on his lips the most profundity Houghton could muster while kissing Annabelle was the thought Thank God this happened sometime before I ie The book opens with a uote from Nathaniel Hawthorne Families are always rising and falling in America But I believe we ought to examine closely the how and why of it which in the end revolves around life and how you live it When you cover a century of America you had better populate it with interesting characters or it might read like a history book This American century begins in the 1870s and concludes in 1986 Tewksbury who begins the family s ascent is a joyful character not at all put out by being Vapor Trail (Phil Broker, denied his profession in the New World He finds another way starting a pharmacy His son Houghton as a young man may put you in mind of George Bailey from It s a Wonderful Life a good natured soul with purpose focus and a work ethic most of us can only marvel at It is no wonder he provides the rocket fuel for the Forsters ascent becoming the scion of PanCola our stand in for Coke Soda has always seemed to me such an Americanrink It is to this country what wine is to France tea to England beer to Germany or toilet water to misbehaving Endgame (Jani Kilian Chronicles, dogs Soda is especially pervasive in the South where I m from and the region I love exploring scrutinizing praising and criticizing in my work As Nancy Lemann wrote in the sublime Lives of the Saints Southerners need carbonation Soda I figured would enable me to wed the national and the regional America and the South and examine the relationship between them from The Millions interviewThe failings of some of those who come after Houghton offer us a view of familial as well as corporateescent There are costs to being rich to being born into a family that rules a commercial empire that is mentioned in the same breath as Hearsts and Rockefellers There are expectations and things that are not allowed along with the means to erase evidence of ark eeds or errors all existing within a world that proclaims its righteousness while often indulging in private excess One thing I would have preferred for American Pop was for it to have been longer not a common gripe When Wright allows himself time to go at his characters at length the results are extraordinary There is a smorgasbord of Forsters by birth and marriage to be sampled here and I felt short changed when each was not given as much attention as some others seeing wonderful opportunities cut short For a book of such broad scope to come in at in my ARE a mere 384 pages seems a slight to what might have been Don t get me wrong I think this is a marvelous read but it is so amazing at times that I wanted the same amazingness to have been applied liberally to the characters who got less ink Not much of a gripe I know And one I expect might be addressed if this book is made into a TV mini series A theatrical film would no Digger the Dinosaur doubt cut characters rather than flesh them out There was one other item that jarred a bit One character goes abroad as a way of filling a gap recovering from serialisappointments This seemed pretty clear but Wright opted to tell us overtly exactly why this character was heading elsewhere Seemed unnecessary and a tort of telling over showing There is a lot of flash backing and flash forwarding Sometimes it worked perfectly but at other times it seemed a shortcut in place of further writing about a character spoilerish in a way Wright gives the novel the patina of a family memoir My first conception of the book was for it to be the opposite of Capote s nonfiction novel In Cold Blood I wanted American Pop to be fictional nonfiction To achieve that effect I used certain techniues of nonfiction such as source citations uotes from interviews and the use of specific ates and times similar to what Michael Chabon id in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay and Susanna Clarke in Jonathan Strange Mr Norrell from The Millions interview It is a story about story telling personal and global and how our sense of who we are our nostalgia our supposedly shared values and history constitute a concoction that while it may have a foundation in the pure water of reality of this then that is flavored by the secret ingredients of lies half lies and incomplete truths with a splash of wickedness and the effervescence of the truly marvelous One of the first great books of 2019 it might be better to think of American Pop as American BOOM Can I get another bottle please On his way back Die Sommer der Porters downstairs Robert passed a rare photograph from 1910 s notorious PanCola Summit a weeklong motivational sales meeting The photo featured hundreds of Panhandlers crowded in front of a platform According to the expose The Church of Pan or the Cult of Pan written by a British reporter who infiltrated the event it was less of a pep rally and of an indoctrination creating mindless automatons whose only goal in life was to sell sugar water This wasn t the country I envisioned began the expose if Robert remembered correctly It was the South a country within a country But which was real the exterior one or the interior the body or the soul Review posted February 8 2019Publication Mercury Retrograde (Dark Alchemy, date February 5 2019December 2019 NPR names American Pop as one of their Best Books of 2019EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal Twitter GR and FB pages American Pop is Wright s second novel His first Play Pretty Blues The Life of Robert Johnson was published in 2013 His writing has appeared in Atlantic Esuire Salon The Millions the New York Daily News Esuire The Paris Review and probably plenty The opening of the novel read by Robert PetkoffInterviews Print The Millions Southern Discomfort The Millions Interviews Snowden Wright by Matt Burgess Print Clarion Ledger A softrink empire outrageous family cola hunters Snowden Wright on American Pop by Jana Hoops Audio NPR Author Snowden Wright Chronicles Fictional Southern Cola Dynasty In Novel American Pop Audio Writer s Bone Friday Morning Coffee American Pop Author Snowden Wright from about 60. Lessness with the lives and hearts of others Their brother Harold as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel is slowed by a mental The Cattle Baron disability and later generations seem eually plagued by misfortune forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he’s goneAn irresistible toure force of original storytelling American Pop blends fact and fiction the mundane and the mythical and utilizes techniues of historical reportage to capture how in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words “families are always rising and falling in America” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory and the stories we choose to tell about ourselv.
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The scale of the story is big and American Pop pulls that much off There s not so much a storyline to follow as much as birds eye view of a slow ownward spiral I A Teachers Guide to American Tapestry did like the relativelyisorganized style of snippets of the family s life jumping from the beginning to end of a century lon Only four books have made me cryThis was the fourthI haven t read a family epic this good since Middlesex So Good Just so good Take your time and savor this one I really enjoyed the overall storyline fresh and original a fictionalization of the time leading up to and after The Cola Wars set in the southI was entranced for the first few chapters sucked in by the gorgeous writing and interested in the characters though I had no idea just how many there would be As the story progressed however the structure of the book continued to confound me bopping backwards and forwards forwards and backwards and like a shaken cola the effect was well fizzying and What Happens to Our Trash? dizzying I was never uite sure what year we were in what had already happened what was prophesied to happen in the future Even the cast of characters was hard for me to wrap my mind around until the very endAnd while the idea was clever to include notes from biographers and historians as well as article snippets about the fictional cola company they often came across as historical informationumps stopping the flow of the story I would The Pursuit of Mary Bennet definitely read the author s next book and wonder if this is just a case of not the book for me Because when I walked away I reallyid enjoy the overall bones of the story he created as well as the memorable characters even if they were not robust enough to form strong emotional connections with perhaps Scandals and Secrets (Hearts Of Fire, due to sheer uantity of characters And there were moments of writing brilliance throughoutIf you are not a fan of extremely long sentences this may not be the book for you If you enjoy literary family sagas with vast arrays of characters and smart writing this MAY be the book for you I m not leaving a star rating because Ion t like hurting authors ratings like that but I couldn t stand the prose Too many characters were introduced too early on in this book and the perspective kept hopping between them after only a paragraph or two I had to bail I couldn t handle the writing style which was sometimes witty but was often trying too hard to be witty It also felt like the author wrote various scenes from the lives of the characters on index cards tossed them into the air and then wrote the book in the orde I won this in a Goodreads giveaway American Pop sounded so interesting a book about a fictional family the Forsters founders of the worlds first major soft Shooting for a Century drink company Panola Cola The house of Forster is built on scandal backstabbing and lies That s sounds amazing I really wish I had read that book but unfortunately what I got was a jumbled mess First of all there were WAY too many characters and you guys know I hate books that have than 5 main characters American Pop had at least 14 main characters It was too much My second problem with the book was it was confusing If you re gonna write a book with a million characters at least tell the story in a linear timeline This book hopped from 1920 s to the 2000 s to 1950 s back to the 1920 s with stops in 1890 s and 1980 s I never knew whatecade I was reading I lost the plot within the first 100 pages and wasn t able to find it again until the last 50 pages I I, Partridge didn t like it but thatoesn t mean other readers won t like it This book just wasn t for me If you are going to write a Southern book and you are a white person and the book is about white people you should sit Shadow of the Templar down with that idea for a while You should really think about it If that book is going to be seturing the Jim Crow era and is about wealthy tragic white people you should think even harder For a very long time Southern fiction has meant this kind of story Sure we occasionally let in stories about poor struggling white people but mostly it is about the gentried South the Unforgiven (Warriors for the Light decline of old money or the rise of new money a kind of American ized version of the British manor story Like Downton Abbey except with racism This is a book that jumps around in time like a child playing hopscotch It gleefully tosses you around and once you re situated in one time it must also remind you how long it is till that other thing happens and how long it s been since that last thing happened sometimes it will list all these things with exact years that have passed and are to come And yet this bookespite moving through 100 years or so of history this book Buried Sins (The Three Sisters Inn, doesn t seem to be aware of the outside world except for two world wars It certainlyoesn t seem to be aware of the fact that the Confederacy ever existed or that racism powers the entire system it Six Days in Leningrad dwells within But you the reader know and so it remains like an itch at the back of your brain this knowledge that outside of these stories that we are told are tragic that a much larger much tragic story is happening just steps away As is often the case with this kind of book all the black characters and there are only a small number who appear for a brief period are the help And all of them are involved in or are the product of a probably not fully consensual relationship with a powerful white man who employs them At one moment in the story we are supposed to be horrified by such a thing but at another moment we re given to believe that a young poor black woman is happily involved with a white man who has the ability to get her fired at any time and that her willingness too whatever he tells her isn t totally The Darkness disgusting Spoiler it IS totallyisgustingThe book opens telling us that this family is a tragic story and because these are white people it seems that the easiest way to make their story t Panola Cola carbonated sugar water with a secret ingredient is the uintessential American product that propels a Mississippi family into prominence American Pop tells the multi generational story of the Forster family as they rise and fall over the course of one hundred years There are accidents. The story of a family The story of an empire The story of a nationMoving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again a saga of family ambition passion and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern Flyboy dynasty the Forsters founders of the world’s first major softrink company against the backdrop of than a century of American cultural historyThe child of immigrants Houghton Forster has always wanted from his time as a young boy in Mississippi working twelve hour A Dark Sicilian Secret days at his father’srugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife Annabelle Teague a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the Wolf Creek Homecoming (Wolf Creek delicious fizzyrink tha.
Suicide and struggles with sexuality possible murder uestions of paternity and the ultimate loss of the family fortune Employing a non linear narrative this novel jumps around in time occasionally with jarring speed It possesses that ark strangeness singular to the south but it s not uite Southern Gothic There is a certain amount of humor but the characterization felt a bit thin I would have liked to have spent time with each character to get to know them better And it is curious that very little attention is paid to the cultural events of the twentieth century other than the world wars perhaps the exceedingly wealthy live untouched by these things Yes this is full of irony and witticisms and yes this is s generational saga Three to be exact which besides the mystery of the hidden ingredient are the only exact items to be noted Everything else is confusing This book skip around from generation forward and backward and everything in between There are historical happenings family scandals galore but it seems just when something gained my interest was on the cupse of s breakthrough it switched to a ifferent timelineI struggled with this book for almost a week The beginning certainly gained my interest but after that initial burst I couldn t maintain my apt concentration Which is what this book reuires apt concentration Well it got the better of me I skinned the last third Future readers may have better luck At least I hope so Earlier that week when he was explaining that Maximilian Everard controlled than a fifth of the votes in the state via his sway over his white friends who in turn held sway over the Negro tenants farming their land Paul Johnson had warned Montgomery about the evening they were going to spend at Bluest Heaven noting Those boys there will be true Delta Monty had understood the phrase to refer to any white plantation owner from the Valley of the Lower Mississippi who was socially entitled financially comfortable and as if Zeno had At the Italians Command devised a paradox concerning Kentucky bourbon perpetually fixed halfway between sober andrunk He knew those weren t the only paradoxes of their breed True Deltans were also simultaneously ostentatious and genteel careful of Oh Baby! debt but careless with risk patrician planters and rugged frontiersmen as hedonisticly liberal as they were politically conservative the most Mississippian of Mississippians In the main parlor a semicircular room with ceilings eighteen feet high and alcoves built into the walls to exhibit marble statuary Monty was introduced to a group of men who made him realize he barely understood the half of it American Pop follows a century or so of America through the experiences of the Forster family from the arrival of paterfamilias Tewksbury a Her Rancher Hero (Saddlers Prairie, doctor transformed by immigration into a pharmacist to Houghton his ambitious hard working son the one who came up with the formula for what would become the best selling carbonatedrink in the nation to his children Montgomery the politician with a secret Lance very bright but with a talent for self The Maid of Lorne doubt andestruction Ramsey Lance s twin with secrets of her own one of which will kill her and Harold the innocent of the crew possessed of a sweet nature and a eficit of understanding And then there is the generation after them with complications and challenges aplenty Snowden Wright image from his Twitter pageThe opening scene is a tracking shot an operatic overture the reader s eye following this Forster until another enters the scene then we follow that one until he or she changes irection and we spy another until we have met them all or most anyway and been offered a snippet of who they all are It is breathtaking I can hardly wait to see it How to Become a Virgin done properly on screen It s a big story an American story but with seven league boots that take us to Europe South America and Asia from the trenches of World War I in northern France to stylish Paris on the eve of another war from Hollywood to Greenwich Village There are Doughboys and Nazis socialites and Senators smoke filled rooms and a This is the way it is scene worthy of Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen in Network But mostly it is a song of the South The South has to put it lightly a fraught past with slavery and the Civil War and recently racism misogyny homophobia and anti intellectualism We have a perpetual BOGO sale on social issues In American Pop I tried to grapple with those issues not only as they relate to the South but also as they relate to the country as a whole There s a reason Iidn t title the novel Southern Pop The South s problems are also America s problems and that s never been clearer than it is in our current political situation from The Millions interview An early cross racial allegiance seemed a bit of a stretch to my 21st century eyes but I could see it in an earlier age in a way like the butler Stevens Dangerous Disguise (Cavanaugh Justice, dedication to Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day Romantic elements cross racial boundaries some in aark way another in a hopeful vein There is a The Bosss Baby Surprise delicious scene in which a blackriver offers his VIP passenger a vision of how black people see the reality the uppers create And as one would expect there will be some coffee in the creamMatters of love abound from wind blown trysts to the longing of a lifetime from classic love of the usual sort beautifully rawn even celestial at times to love of the forbidden sort movingly achingly portrayed Love is found lost and appears in iverse sorts from the romantic to the familial from love of land to love of money and power from love based on friendship to love based on admiration Decisions forks in the Command Performance dirt road of characters life choices turn on matters of the heart Decades later overrinks at The Brook one evening William K Vanderbilt II would jokingly ask What gave you the nerve to even try to land a Teague to which Houghton answered that it was the same thing that let their ancestors think about leaving the old country the same thing that helped those first settlers wrest farmland from the wilderness the same thing giving their waiter that look of Loveknot (Welcome to Tyler, defiance tempered with en. T would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire the Panola Cola Company and entice a youthful enterprising nation entering a hopeful new ageNow the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll oneay become world leaders The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance known as the “infernal twins” are rivals not only in wit and beauty but in their utter care.
Snowden Wright is the author of the novel American Pop a Wall Street Journal WSJ Book of the Month selection for Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” program NPR Favorite Book of the Year and nominee for the Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters and the Georgia Author of the Year awards A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University he has written for The Atlantic Salon