Medallion Press, $25.95, 308 pages
The Front Porch Prophet, by Raymond L. Atkins, combines a zany bunch of characters in unforgettable predicaments set in small town Sequoyah, Georgia. Although the plot is centered around Eugene Purdue’s impending date with death due to pancreatic cancer, the story is far from morbid or depressing. On the contrary, it is brimming with life and humorous accounts of how life sometimes takes wild and crazy turns, like the reuniting of Eugene Purdue and his childhood friend A.J. Longstreet, after a long period of estrangement.
Each chapter begins with excerpts from posthumous letters written by Eugene assigned to A.J. to be distributed to friends, neighbors and family upon Eugene’s demise. These excerpts alone make the novel worth reading they’re that entertaining.
A.J. also has, unfortunately, been assigned (by Eugene) the task of killing him, “when it’s time”. Throughout the story, A.J. recalls humorous events and people from his childhood, and times spent with Eugene, while also contemplating Eugene’s request to perform a mercy killing. The novel contains a few surprises along the way, and has a suitable ending. Mr. Atkins has written a heartwarming, witty, Southern tale with likeable characters, that will stay with the reader long after turning the last page of this wonderful debut novel.
Kimberly E. Logan