The term “Southern Gothic” was used in the blurb I read about American Pop by Snowden Wright. I have to admit, I did not know what that meant so I went to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature and found the definition – “Southern Gothic is a mode or genre prevalent in literature from the early 19th century to this day. Characteristics of Southern Gothic include the presence of irrational, horrific, and transgressive thoughts, desires, and impulses; grotesque characters; dark humor, and an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation.” Based on that definition I did not think this would be my kind of book, but the author is from Mississippi, the book is set in Mississippi and I am from Mississippi so I thought I’d give it a go! I would say that while that definition does not describe this book exactly, there are definitely Southern Gothic characteristics!
American Pop is story about a very Southern family whose fortunes rose in the late 1800’s with the invention and popularity of a Panola Cola and fell due to a combination of family dysfunction (mainly) and market forces. The tales of the family dysfunction are the main storylines but I appreciated that through it all they always managed to find a way to love each other even if it was hard to show it. I think this is sometimes the essence of southern families! American Pop covers about a century but is not told in a linear time format – it jumps around which sometimes made it hard to follow but the author did a good job of making sure I knew where I was in the timeline. While this is probably not going on my top 10 books of the year list, I am very glad I read it! Now I get to add another fun genre to to my catalog!