As Hot As It Was You Ought To Thank Me

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nanci Kincaid’s book “As Hot As It Was You Ought To Thank Me” is like a prophet’s feverish dream of snakes, storms, sin and sandspurs.

With no chapter breaks, the novel stretches along like a long, humid summer night, but quickly picks up the pace when a hurricane hits the small town of Pinetta, Fla. (where the book is set) and the book’s narrator Berry Jackson’s father goes missing during the deluge.

When a chain gang of prisoners come to town to repair the roads damaged by the storm, Berry is immediately drawn to one of the shackled young men named Raymond who professes his only crime was “loving someone too much.”

With her mother finding comfort in the arms of business owner Jack Longmont (whose own wife is accused of having an affair with the Baptist preacher) and her close friend Rennie Miller, rumored to have run away with Berry’s father, she is desperate for any attention she can find. Berry refuses to give up on her first love, even if it means following in the straying footsteps of the many adults around her.

Responding to the rampant town gossip, Berry’s mother tells her, “Imagination is free.”

It was the one thing the people of Pinetta could afford, but by the end of the summer there was enough fodder for their imaginations to run wild as kudzu, leaving Berry to question ‘what exactly is the truth?”

Shannon Whitfield is a library assistant at Calera Public Library.