Friday, February 3, 2012

Naked Came the Leaf Peeper

The above is the intriguing title of a new book you may have already heard about because, within days of its debut, it was already causing a sensation around Western North Carolina. If the title sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it partakes of an irreverent literary genre dating back in recent history to Naked Came the Stranger, a bestselling 1969 collaborative serial novel spoofing America's fascination with sex and co-written by several staffers at Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, which was followed in 1996 by Naked Came the Manatee, a mystery parody similarly composed by a corps of authors.

Our highland home, offering as it does its own array of stereotypes ranging from the engaging to the bizarre, and parody being the mainstay of the previous two novels as well as a sincere form of fond celebration of its topic, co-editors Brian Lee Knopp and his wife Linda Barrett Knopp have persuaded some our region's most talented--and possibly deranged--authors to contribute the twelve 6,000-word chapters that make up the book.

Brian, already acclaimed for his bestselling memoir Mayhem in Mayberry, sets the stage with an initial chapter strewn like a minefield with plot devices each of which succeeding authors pick up and carry on, not only maintaining a compelling and consistent story line but also freely throwing in more and more clever twists and turns so that the book becomes a hilarious unfolding of incident and deepening of character that draws the reader eagerly to the fabulous climax, written by Vanderbilt's Tony Earley, which I guarantee will leave you screaming with helpless laughter.

In between are chapters written by John P. McAfee, Susan Reinhardt, Gene Cheek, Wayne Caldwell, Fred Chappell, Vicki Lane, Tommy Hays, Alan Gratz, Linda Marie Barrett and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, writers known throughout our region for various styles of work but who, this time, have thrown themselves gleefully into a murder-mystery spoof while somehow managing to deploy their individual styles yet maintain a consistent authorial voice throughout.

Yours truly contributed a minor Afterword, but it is the collaboration of the chapter-writers which is the wonder and the mainstay of the book. I venture to predict it will live long. Already it has been praised by the likes of Charles Frazier, Ron Rash, Elizabeth Gilbert and Sarah Addison Allen. Get it and read it. And enjoy the belly-laughs!

Buy it or order it from Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville (

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