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Shocked into maturity: sex and death as initiation in the fiction of Lewis Nordan.

ONE OF LEWIS NORDAN'S MAIN STRENGTHS AS A WRITER IS HIS DELICATE descriptions of boys and men in existential crises, fathers and sons who are alien to one another yet long to be close. When his writing borders on sentimentality humor always saves it. Nordan's style ranges from goofball comedy to deep tragedy, and he can switch from one to the other within a single scene. He is a comic writer with an ear for tragedy, or maybe the other way around. But as with Mark Twain, one must not equate the humor with lightness in subject matter. There are dark undertows in Nordan's fiction, undertows that are sometimes hard to see because of the humorous style and ludicrous characters.

All of Nordan's novels center on a boy on the verge of manhood. Most of his stories and novels are set in the 1950s and they often take the form of initiation stories, where boy protagonists enter the world of manhood. This places his work in the patriarchal tradition of the Bildungsroman, which has a strong tradition in American literature. From Huck Finn to Hemingway's Nick Adams and Salinger's Holden Caulfield to Philip Roth's Alexander Portnoy, American writers have portrayed innocent and maladjusted boys being corrupted and conformed by society. Nordan's novels all contribute to the tradition of the American Bildungsroman, with a Southern twist that echoes both Flannery O'Connor and Erskine Caldwell but is ultimately Nordan's own.

One of the most dominating themes in Nordan's fiction explores sex and death as part of young boys' initiations. Most of his adolescent boys are shocked into maturity, and the ripples of that shock continue to haunt them as grown men. Nordan's four novels, Music of the Swamp (1991), Wolf Whistle (1993), The Sharpshooter Blues (1995), and Lightning Song (1997) all deal with boys who suffer terrible scars in their encounters with the adult world. The boys furthermore have problems dealing with their father figures. Much of this is derived from Nordan's own life; his father died when Nordan was very young. The theme of dead or absent fathers is one of the strongest leitmotifs in Nordan's fiction. The absent father creates a feeling of inferiority and loneliness that all his young males have to cope with along with their struggle to understand and enter the mysterious world of sexuality and manhood. Unfortunately, Nordan's obsession with sons and fathers at times results in a limited depiction of his women characters, who sometimes end up as types.

Two of Nordan's early stories, "Sugar, the Eunuchs, and Big G. B." and "The Sears and Roebuck Catalog Game," serve as a thematic key to his later works, as scenes and events from the stories are played out in the subsequent novels. Sugar Mecklin is the narrator of both stories, although he remains unnamed in the latter. Both stories are poignant tales of a boy trying to understand the world his unhappy parents inhabit, and trying to come to terms with his own budding adolescence.

In their quest for manhood, Nordan's boys follow a typically Freudian pattern: they look to everything masculine around them to get a sense of what it is and how to gain it. They practice it, imitate it, and develop it according to the role models closest to them. Most often, of course, the father becomes the figure of masculinity that boys imitate, but if he is absent or for other reasons does not live up to the boys' definition of masculinity, they will look elsewhere for role models and heroes, in a quest for an ideal of exaggerated masculinity. But even though a father can desert his son, the son can never escape his father. Absent or not, he will always be present in the boy's mind (Pittman 99, 106-07). In Nordan's fiction the sons yearn to progress from their boyhood, but their fathers are incapable of performing their role as mentors. The boys thus become insecure about manhood and masculinity. When their initiations occur, often violently and always prematurely, the boys are caught off-guard. What is worse, the initiations are often highly traumatic for the boys since a combination of sex and death is often the catalyst. The disturbing connection between sex and death can be seen in all of Nordan's novels, and the pattern is always the same: failing fathers and predatory women leave in their wake dead or mined boys who become emotionally crippled by their encounters.

Music of the Swamp, Nordan's first novel/short story collection, is a piece of magic Mississippi realism that chronicles the summer when Sugar Mecklin turns eleven. The pattern of boys living with unhappy parents who are alienated from one another is affirmed here. Sugar's parents go through a strange ritual in which his drunk father fills glass after glass with water, only to pour it into the sink. All the while Sugar's mother is saying, "I wish you wouldn't do that, Gilbert" (51). The first part of the novel moves towards an epiphany Sugar experiences after his father, half-drunk, has told him that "the Delta is filled up with Death" (53). Sugar sees the comment as "a summons, a moral imperative to search," and he begins digging holes everywhere (54). Even though Sugar finds "a good deal of unpleasantness" he finds "little death in the Delta" (56). The more he digs, the more obvious it becomes that the digging is an attempt to react to the unhappy lives of his parents. He has a sense "of doing something worthwhile, or at least necessary in the face of the many things [he] could not otherwise control" (59). The digging becomes a quest, a possession, and Sugar sees himself as "a person driven by some need born of my father's pain, my mother's despair" (56). Convinced that he will eventually disclose "an evil treasure" (57), Sugar keeps digging. "I believed ... that whatever bone I found," Sugar says, "was not without a human history, that a single bone was a person, someone whose life was as filled with madness and loss as the lives of my father and mother" (59).

Sugar never finds an evil treasure, but when he moves to the underside of the house and starts digging there he discovers a glass coffin with "a dead woman, beautiful, with auburn hair and fair skin" (62). This is an early example of Nordan's magic realism. Neither Sugar nor the reader is sure whether the woman actually exists; in fact Sugar hints that what he may have seen might as well have been a peek into his "own troubled heart" (62), "a vision or hallucination born of heartbreak and loss" (68-69). The dead woman symbolizes a dilemma, the reverberations of which echo throughout all of Nordan's work. She is an example of an Oedipus complex; at the same time she is a sign of the flight from the feminine initiated by a developing gender structure in Sugar, one that adheres to the dominant gender power of a patriarchal society.

The Oedipal aspects are quite evident: "In the dead woman's face" Sugar sees his "mother's beauty, the warm blood of her passion" (63). Later, watching his parents dance he "fell in love with both of them," seeing his father as "Fred Astaire" and his mother as "an angel" wearing the same dress as the dead woman (67). Furthermore, the discovery of the dead woman somehow fires Sugar's thirst for manhood and momentarily he reacts against his safe maternal environment. This fits in with the common cultural perception of manhood as a flight from femininity and any of the "soft" elements connected to it. As Michael Kimmel and Michael Kaufman point out, "the establishment of a boy's identity and his individuality is a psychic process in which the boy struggles to renounce identification with the mother, and the nurturing she represents, and embrace identification with the father" (270). The result of what they call a "mother wound" is that many men, afraid of being branded wimps, "engage in all manner of high-risk behavior" (271). Sugar's behavior supports this pattern. Immediately after discovering the dead woman, thereby being released from the nurturing mother, he engages in a conscious display of hyper-masculinity: he showers, then steals a box of his father's condoms as well as his pistol and two bullets. But the reaction is only temporary and Sugar cannot live up to the sudden macho ideals that overtake him: "Later I walked beside Roebuck Lake and threw away the rubbers and the bullets and hated my father and myself' (66). After a brief attempt to escape the confines of childhood Sugar is back in an Oedipal state, his father an adversary.

What starts out as a search for death in the Delta ends up as a hint at initiation and a feeling of insufficiency when it comes to manhood. "Having looked into the dead woman's face" has given Sugar a "terrible secret" (68) that somehow brings him to a greater understanding of his parents' unhappy marriage and the fact that their relationship is based on "true love, no matter how terrible" (67). The first chapter/story ends as Sugar cries in his mother's arms, wanting to dance with her as his father did, and confesses to finding the dead woman under the house. On the verge of adolescence, Sugar is caught up in a dilemma of Oedipal feelings and dreams of the dead mother.

Wolf Whistle, Nordan's second novel, was both a critical and public success. It won the Southern Book Award and gained him a wider audience. The book deals with one of the most notorious racial subjects in recent Southern history: the murder of Emmett Till. Nordan has called the book "the white trash version of the Emmett Till murder" ("Interview," Ingram and Ledbetter 84). Wolf Whistle is not, nor does it try to be, a historical account of the murder. It is a dark and grotesque comedy, a complex and daring exploration into the background and motivation behind the lynching and its effect on the small community. In the novel the Till character is Bobo, and his killer is Solon Gregg. Nordan undertakes, among other things, to put himself in the mind of the killer, much as Eudora Welty did in her story "Where Is the Voice Coming From?", which told the story of the man who murdered Medgar Evers. Much to Nordan's credit, Solon emerges as a complex character, whose motives for killing Bobo become more than just racial hatred. Class issues, loneliness, poverty, and a scarred masculinity play as much a part in his choice.

Fourteen-year-old Bobo is visiting from Chicago to stay with his aunt and uncle. Because of his exotic status as a Northerner, Bobo is the center of attention among the other black children hanging out around the local drugstore. Full of self-confidence, Bobo is boasting semi-sexual jokes, asking, "Who want to look at my lizard?" (23), meaning his lizard-skin wallet, and showing off the picture of his white Chicago girlfriend, which turns out to be a picture of the beautiful movie star Hedy Lamarr. Bobo boosts his confidence further by cussing at one of the black guitar players in the store. But then the white, high-class Lady Montberclair enters the store. After a humorous passage in which Nordan describes Lady Montberclair's efforts to buy tampons, tragedy strikes when Bobo, unaware of the suppressed sexual atmosphere in the store, wolf whistles at the white lady. The wolf whistle, which is merely a childish prank meant to increase Bobo's stature in the eyes of his playmates, is taken dead-seriously by the white men in the store.

By whistling at a white lady, Bobo called attention to his awareness of a white lady's sexuality. This was not allowed in Mississippi in the 1950s, as Bobo soon came to learn. As a result of the repressive Jim Crow logic, fourteen-year-old Bobo's initiation into manhood is forced upon him in a manner both brutal and swift. One moment he is a giggling teenager on the verge of adulthood; the next moment he is dead, doomed by his wolf whistle. Solon Gregg drags Bobo from his aunt and uncle's house, shoots him, wraps around his neck barbed wire that he ties to a gin fan, and throws him into Lake Roebuck.

The murder is, in a sense, Bobo's initiation as a worst-case scenario. In one single day he learns of the inherent dangers of sexuality, especially when mixed with race issues. In a better world "bad manners and disrespect and a possessive disdain for a woman became mere child's play, a normal and decent testing of adolescent limits in a hopeful world" (209). But in Mississippi in 1955 the testing of adolescent limits is lethal for black boys. Bobo learns of the violence that adult men are capable of and loses his life for what was merely "child's play."

The Sharpshooter Blues probes the tragic realities behind America's fascination with guns. The novel's central event features a violent cocktail of sex and death. While looking after the local grocery store, the town idiot, Hydro Raney, a regular in Nordan's fiction, is held up by a young Bonnie and Clyde-like couple. Cheryl, the girl, asks Hydro at gun point if he knows what sex is, and his morbid answer, "A grave?" (50), once again underlines the disturbing connection between sex and death. Cheryl then presses a pistol to his head and rapes him. The experience is one of total humiliation for Hydro. When Cheryl says, "Fuck me, waterhead," Hydro pleads, "Don't make me. It will ruin my life," and "I don't know how" (209). Hydro is "filled with fear and disgust and yet hard," and when it is over, Cheryl completes his humiliation by letting him know how disgusted she is (210). Uncertain of how to respond to what has just happened to him, Hydro acts swiftly. He shoots the girl's head off, and then shoots her partner. In this way, Hydro's initiation has been one of violent sex and shocking death.

Cheryl represents the castrating woman, this ominous predator who holds a secure place in the American literary canon in fiction by writers like Hemingway and Faulkner. Like Brett Ashley of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Cheryl unmans, degrades and humiliates. Cheryl also fits Leslie Fiedler's description of Temple Drake from Faulkner's Sanctuary, as someone who is "disconcertingly almost a man, almost phallic," someone who destroys rather than redeems (Fiedler 322, 323). Cheryl becomes an anti-woman, someone with a "body as bony as a skeleton" and "almost nonexistent breasts" that still manage "to droop like the breasts of a very old man ..." (209). She is also given the role of monster, as Hydro finds her "ugly," her body "monstrous and sad" (210). Cheryl manifests her role as degrading she-monster by telling Hydro, "I want to throw up, I'm so disgusted," after having raped him (210).

Yet despite the horrors she visits upon Hydro, he also sees her as "an angel" (210). Like Sugar, who experienced his mother as both angel and dead woman, Hydro sees Cheryl as an amalgamation of the two dominating female stereotypes: the Madonna and the whore; the angel and the monster: "She was both beautiful and ugly, she was a child and she was ancient" (209). As with Sugar, the shocking experience forces Hydro to ponder his parents' sexuality: "How could you do this just for fun? How could you love anybody afterwards?" (209-10). Not surprisingly, the entire experience destroys Hydro. When his father later sings him a lullaby that mentions the sexual innuendos, "squeezin'" and "teasin'," Hydro breaks down: "At the mention of sex, Hydro began to scream. He screamed and screamed, like his daddy had never heard.... He would not be comforted" (19). Consumed by feelings of shame and guilt, Hydro later drowns himself as a final way out of his misery.

Even though Hydro is "about twenty," (22) he has the mental capacity of a child, not unlike Benjy Compson from Faulkner's The Soundand the Fury. Perhaps the fact that he is trapped in the mind of a child can explain his death by suicide. Because he is incapable of crossing the psychological boundary from boy to man, yet quite able physically, the rape has knocked Hydro off his axis and it is not possible for him to continue living.

Hydro is not the only person in the grocery store at the time of the holdup. Ten-year-old Louis McNaughton watches Cheryl rape Hydro, his own first encounter with adult sexuality. Trembling behind a pantry door like a voyeur, Louis stares at Cheryl, and "the sight of her nakedness, this girl's flesh and bones, her milky skin, her skeleton-thin frame and tiny breasts, the wide, womanly patch of hair between her legs, broke his heart" (55). When he tries to get another look at the naked girl, he sees instead Hydro shooting the heads off the girl and boy. Louis watches it all in a detached, analytical way, believing it to be "by far the most interesting thing that he had ever seen" but also finding it "impossible that the sight of it would not ruin his whole life forever if he did not tell someone" (59). Telling his sister Katy is out of the question, because "just hearing it might ruin her life too" (59). It is hard not to draw connections to Huck Finn's refusal to talk about the Grangerford-Shepherdson family feud turned massacre: "I ain't agoing to tell all that happened--it would make me sick again if I was to do that. I wished I hadn't ever come ashore that night, to see such things. I ain't ever going to get shut of them--lots of times I dream about them" (Twain 94). Both Twain and Nordan are concerned with man's inhumanity to man and the destructive powers behind it, but Twain's characters are generally more resilient than Nordan's.

By the time of Lightning Song, the pattern of sex and death as initiation has been firmly established. Lightning Song tells the story of twelve-year-old Leroy Dearman's last summer of boyhood and of his difficult transition into puberty. But it is also yet another story of parents in a stranded marriage, of the strengths and limitations of family. Yet the main focus of the novel is on Leroy's initiation into manhood, which is fueled when his eccentric Uncle Harris moves into the attic of the house on the Dearman llama farm.

The growing confusion in Leroy's mind makes him look to his masculine authorities for answers. But his father does not conform to the traditional notions of a masculine role model: as a result of a shooting accident in his childhood, Swami Don has only one good arm. The other is "just a withered limp little wet rag of an arm" (20). When Leroy looks at his father he regrets "the limitations he saw in him. He was embarrassed that he was a farmer, that he had only one arm, that he did not glitter like Uncle Harris did" (51). Swami Don's imperfect masculinity becomes obvious when he tries to protect his daughter from some wild dogs. Leroy watches him fumble with the rifle, "his withered arm bounc[ing] this way and that. His infirmity was more obvious to Leroy than ever before" (142). Instead of his father, Leroy begins to look to his Uncle Harris for inspiration and guidance.

When Harris arrives at the llama farm, he brings change with him in the form of music, alcohol, and romance. And while Leroy enjoys the new world that has been opened to him, he comes to realize that it is not without consequences to the life of his family, which so far, he feels, has offererd him a safe haven. Disillusionment is another part of growing up, and Leroy's grip on reality begins to slip when he discovers his mother and uncle kissing in the kitchen: "Leroy didn't know what had happened to the world" (83), but he begins to understand the nature of desire and of betrayal. Worst of all, Leroy comes to the terrible realization that "his mama did not love his daddy. That was it. Simple as that, a thing he had not known before. Love had not lasted" (87). Ashamed of his father and betrayed by his uncle, Leroy finds it difficult to get a grip on his own masculinity.

To his surprise his younger sister, Laurie, seems wise beyond her years, and he begins to look to her for guidance. This results in some gender confusion and Leroy agrees, after initial protests, to join Laurie at a baton twirling camp "for girls ... three through ten" (167). When Leroy lays hands on the baton, which his sister treats "as if it were some sacred thing" (169), he realizes what "a beautiful object" it is and it becomes "irresistible to him" (170). This small epiphany creates a wish in Leroy
 to renounce himself, his whole identity, and to be a girl.... For
 the first time in his life he thought that there might be something
 wrong, something sinful and irredeemable, about being born into the
 world a male child and not female.... He didn't mind the
 humiliation of changing his mind, of chasing a girl's dream.

For a brief moment, Leroy goes against the very bedrock of patriarchal society: he renounces masculinity and embraces the feminine. In this limbo of reversed gender norms the masculine becomes the site of projected shame and inferiority. A similar gender confusion is apparent in "The All-Girl Football Team" (1986). When the high school decides to put on an all-girl football game the sixteen-year-old male narrator is elected cheerleader, despite his objections. His father helps him dress up in the costume, complete with "lacy underpants ... skirt ... makeup" and "tiny false breasts ... with perfect nipples on the end" (118-19). After initially feeling "like a fool" (119), he takes to the task and during the game he feels a significant transformation: his penis "was also a moist opening into the hidden fragrance of another self.... My arms were woman-arms, my feet woman-feet, my voice, my lips, my fingers. I stood on the sweet sad brink of womanhood, and somehow I shared this newness with my father" (120). On his way home from the game, seeking "the safety of [his] father's room" (124), he experiences a kind of epiphany which reassures him: "I was not a woman. I did not feel like a woman. I was not in love with a boy. I was a boy in costume for one night of the year, and I was my father's child" (125). Like Leroy in Lightning Song, the narrator strives ultimately for his father's acceptance.

Simultaneous with Leroy's confusion is his understanding that his mother sends the children to the twirling camp so she can be alone with Uncle Harris. Leroy comes to realize that the naked women in Harris's magazines and his mother are somehow connected, that his mother is a sexual being, which realization again points to the Oedipal themes of Nordan's fiction. This brings him "for the first time in his life to consider the death of his sisters, and his own death" (173). Once again sex is linked with death. In this case, the affair between Leroy's mother and uncle has rocked the very foundation upon which his life is built--so much that it forces him to consider the genesis of his own life. Leroy has no answers, but feels that he stands "at the beginning of knowing such things, knowing also that the means by which he was accustomed to comprehending the world were merely inadequate in the extreme" (173). In other words, Leroy is growing up, perhaps faster than he would have liked to, but he is coping the best he can.

Leroy's confusion is only temporary though. His budding sexuality soon points his thoughts in another direction. When he first sees the voluptuous baton twirler Ruby Rae, "every twelve-year-old boy's most private dream of heaven," (174) everything seems to fall into place, every doubt is erased and replaced by the facts of sexual desire, a resolution of the moment which again carries Oedipal undertones:
 He ached ... simply to look at her. He loved his mama in a way he
 had never loved her before. He loved the women in Harris's
 magazines. He loved his sisters, and all the women of the world....
 He knew why people wanted to kiss, even in sin and betrayal. He
 knew now that he could forgive anything, anything at all, for a
 woman's love. (174)

Like Sugar's discovery of the dead woman in Music of the Swamp, Leroy's sudden desire heralds a greater understanding of the strange behavior of adults. Feeling the yearning of desire, he vaguely understands what his mother and uncle feel, and even though he cannot name it, it helps him to take a big step toward a fuller masculinity. What he feels is "something of forgiveness, of remission of sin, of relaxation of the general requirement of perfection in others and the self" (196). These are big thoughts for a twelve-year-old, but they are also vague and easily overshadowed by the painful erections he experiences in the presence of Ruby Rae. In her presence Leroy becomes a small, confused child full of yearning and fear. He is only learning to come to terms with his own sexuality and needs time to fully understand it and develop it before he takes the final steps into manhood.

Unfortunately for Leroy, this happens all too soon. Ruby Rae brings him home, undresses in front of him and has sex with him. Nordan does not describe the actual scene, but we are told that "what Ruby Rae did with him was wrong" (221). Leroy is "petrified" and can "only just retain consciousness" when looking at the naked Ruby Rae (223). Just before they have sex, Leroy giggles, "despite himself ... the driest, the saddest of giggles" (224). Ruby Rae fits the other dangerous and corrupting women of Nordan's fiction: She is "completely out of her mind. She was mad, despite her youth and beauty" (201). Not only is she described as mad, she "might quite possibly be a dangerous person" (211); Leroy compares her to the Hindenburg zeppelin (212), and she has the fingers of "a hag-witch in the movies" (216). Yet Ruby Rae is finally different from Nordan's other ominous women in the way she is reduced to pure sexual threat: "Ruby Rae disappeared, only her sexuality remained.... [Leroy] could not see her" (224). She turns into the ultimate female threat, the "fiber-woman" as carnivorous predator threatening to devour not only Leroy but "all the peoples of the earth" (224).

As Nordan himself admitted, Leroy's sexual encounter with Ruby Rae left him "very close to destruction" (Bjerre 369), and this depiction of sex as destruction instead of initiation can be traced back through all of his fiction and points once more to the tradition in American literature of depicting women as either saints or whores, either mothers or castrating "bitches." "Mother's purity," Molly Haskell states, is "the most sacred and crucial image of our culture ... entirely a wish fulfillment invented by man, an Oedipal attempt by the son to banish the hated image of sex with the father. In doing so he deprives the woman who is his mother of part of her nature, and all of her past." Haskell goes on to say that, "it is man as son ... who is most responsible for keeping mother locked in her chastity belt and most responsible for keeping her imprisoned in her biological role" (119). In Nordan's world mothers are angels for whom the sons harbor semi-illicit feelings; the women who take the sons' virginity leave them close to ruin.

The woman as threat is, of course, an old tradition in American literature, as well as in Western culture in general. The tradition is also firmly rooted in the South, as Michael Kreyling notes: in antebellum Southern fiction, "the southern woman is feared almost as deeply as she is venerated" (18). The fear of the woman and the subsequent conquering of that fear becomes a crucial part of the hero's quest, "for finding and possessing [the woman] is essential to the success of his cultural quest" (Kreyling 18-19). But Nordan's narrators never achieve any success in their quests. Instead of possessing, they are possessed, often violently so, by the threatening women, and so they do not fit into any traditionally heroic pattern. Through the delicate description of the failed initiations of boys, complete with confusion and shame, Nordan resists the traditional and stereotypical phallocentric depiction of initiation as a quest to conquer the woman. Ironically, while resisting one stereotype, Nordan employs another: that of the threatening woman. His poignant depiction of male adolescence is thus given at the expense of some of his female characters.

As initiation stories Nordan's novels are both traditional and original in their depiction of sex as something that destroys as much as it initiates the young men. More than anything else, Nordan's work is a nostalgic elegy to childhood. On one level this places his work firmly among that of the greatest of American writers, whose novels according to Leslie Fiedler's provocative lament seem "innocent, unfallen in a disturbing way, almost juvenile" (24). It can also be argued that Nordan "is writing the same book over and over again" as Fiedler says of the typical American novelist (24). Yet Nordan's work goes one step further than the works Fiedler complains about. Innocence is always corrupted in Nordan's novels. "We are all alone in the world" is Nordan's credo, felt by nearly all his characters, repeated in all his novels, and is even the title of a chapter in his memoir. (1) Even though this terrible realization is made in childhood, the feeling of loneliness only grows with age. In childhood there are magic and wonders to sustain the boys and make them prevail. Once they have left the somewhat safe haven of childhood, they become weak, lonely men, unsure how to tackle the burdens of their newfound masculinity. Nordan shows us childhood as a time of great wonder but also a time of great disillusionment. Although there is always some hope at the end of Nordan's novels, the boys on the verge of manhood have been scarred by the trials of their initiations.

Works Cited

Djikstra, Bram. Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Culture. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.

Fiedler, Leslie A. Love and Death in the American Novel. 1960; Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive Press, 1997.

Haskell, Molly. From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.

Kimmel, Michael, and Michael Kaufman. "Weekend Warriors: The New Men's Movement." Theorizing Masculinities. Ed. Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman. London: Sage, 1994. 259-88.

Kreyling, Michael. Figures of the Hero in Southern Narrative. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1987.

Nordan, Lewis. The All-Girl Football Team. 1986. New York: Vintage, 1989.

--. "An Interview with Lewis Nordan." Russell Ingrain and Mark Ledbetter. Missouri Review 10.1 (1997): 73-89.

--. "Interview with Lewis Nordan, at his home in Pittsburgh." Thomas AErvold Bjerre. Mississippi Quarterly 54.3 (Summer 2001): 367-81.

--. Lightning Song. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1997.

--. Music of the Swamp. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1991.

--. "The Sears and Roebuck Catalog Game." Sugar Among the Freaks. 15-29.

--. The Sharpshooter Blues. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1995.

--. "Sugar, the Eunuchs, and Big G. B." Sugar Among the Freaks. 217-42.

--. Sugar Among the Freaks. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1996.

--. Wolf Whistle. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1993.

Pittman, Frank. Man Enough: Sons, Fathers, and the Search for Masculinity. New York: Berkley, 1993.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1885. New York: Norton Critical Edition, 1977.


University of Southern Denmark, Odense

(1) See Wolf Whistle 42, 246, 274; The Sharpshooter Blues 2, 17, 35, 170; Lightning Song 38; Boy with Loaded Gun, Chapter 20.
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Author:Bjerre, Thomas Aervold
Publication:The Mississippi Quarterly
Date:Sep 22, 2007
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