These are the sort of books that would be good for reading out loud with one or two friends and some bourbon. I know I'm enjoying re-reading the story of Blinking Jack Stokes and Ruby Pitt Woodrow. She's a twenty year old run-away, once-genteel daughter of a farmer, now a widowed and disillusioned fragment, inescapably fated to die of lung cancer, all thanks to the heinous John Woodrow, a migrant scoundrel who deserved his graphic death. Jack is forty, the sort of man who is too simple ever to have done anything unkind or wrong, and is there to help her when she needs it. To entice you and motivate you to read it for yourself, I give you their first encounter:
That third day I went to work was the day I met Jack. I was waiting under the big tree in the backyard, waiting for somebody, either Tiny Fran or her mother, to come out and tell me to come on in, you didn't dare just go up and knock on the door, be it front door or back door, and I saw a skinny man with his dungarees all hung down around his hips, swerving, trying to manage a tall load of manure, headed across the yard towards me. . . . He pushed his wheelbarrow right up to me that day like approaching young women waiting under pecan trees was something he did every day, like it was something he regularly did on the way from the chicken house to the garden. I wasn't afraid at all by the way he looked at me, not like the way I felt when I'd stand up from picking and see the crew chief staring. Jack's look was more like what happens when I'm walking from here to the store and the sun catches something on the side of the road just right, and I wonder if it's a dime or a piece of jewelry, but then I know nobody out here has any jewelry to lose, so I pick the dime up, rub the dirt off, look at it hard, hard as I'd look if it'd been a brooch, just because I'd found it, and finding anything of value is unusual, be it a dime or a man with clay-red skin or a young woman resting under a pecan tree. (A Virtuous Woman, Vintage, 68-70)Of course, if you haven't got time to commit to a whole novel, Charms for the Easy Life was made into what I remember being a pretty good movie, starring Gena Rowlands. Guys, it's a chick movie. Consider yourselves warned. Ellen Foster was also made into a movie, but I've never seen it, so I really couldn't tell you anything about it.