"Diary of a Mad Fat Girl" by Stephanie McAfee
Reviewed by David Marshall James
When Ace Jones isn't teaching art history to high schoolers in Bugtussle, Mississippi, she's either:
A) Playing with her chiweenie, Buster Loo;
B) Opening a can of Whoop-A;
C) Having a beer (or three), a Sprite on the rocks with six cherries, a pizza, a bacon cheeseburger, a pizza, Chinese takeout, and/or yet another pizza.
She isn't counting on having three major problems align in a nonharmonic convergence-- along with all the subsets of their attendant troubles-- and that's what makes up the bulk of this first novel by Mississippi native Stephanie McAfee.
First, Ace's ("Ace" exhibiting a tendency toward typically Southern shortening, in this case of "Graciella") childhood friend and college roommate (from Mississippi State University), Lilly, is acting mighty peculiar, and she's about to be suspended from her teaching (of French) position at the high school.
Mostly, though, Lilly is withholding a whopping secret from Ace, and that makes Ace want to engage in A, B, and C from above.
Then, another college roomie, Chloe, who serves as counselor at the high school, is sacked with otherworldly marital woes, which supplies Ace with multiple opportunities to let slam with B from the above.
To round out (oxymoronically speaking) Ace's triangle of troubles, her supposedly-ex boyfriend (dating back to childhood, but very much on-again, off-again over the years), Mason, comes up from the Coast in order to assist his old friends with their myriad difficulties, seeing as how he's an attorney.
Mason's jarring re-emergence causes Ace to opt once more for A, B, and C.
This novel started life as a self-published Internet downloader and quickly found an audience-- understandably. This debut print version has expanded on the original, and comes as a pleasure to those of us who are sick, tired, and otherwise fed up with faux "sassy Southern" writing.
Down-to-earth and down-and-dirty, this novel never allows a single page to turn dull. The fun flows fast and furious, with ribaldry galore. As Lilly would put it, in texting lingo, "YFH."
That translates roughly as "Yee-Freakin'-Haw."
SUPPER CLUB PICK
My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an