Precisely as its title so unapologetically indicates, Scarlett O’Hara Can Go to Hell is not a Sunday stroll through myths of southern ladies waiting for heroic southern men to fill their lives with romance and adventure. If anything, it’s the exact opposite mesmerizing tale of one woman’s determination to re-write southern society’s definition of what her life should or can be. Jewish by birth but free-spirited by temperament, the novel’s heroine, Naomi Kramer, declares her independence from tradition only to discover that freedom comes with as many challenges and demands as it does rewards and privileges. From her immigrant grandfather’s arrival in the United States in 1904 to Naomi’s powerful spiritual awakening in the 1980s, readers are treated to a journey through the unfoldment of one unforgettable woman’s life while simultaneously bearing witness to what history would come to call the American Century. In turns comically irreverent and soulfully inspiring, Scarlett O’Hara Can Go to Hell is one exceptionally enjoyable read.
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MKC Daughters of Destiny
Scarlett O'Hara Can Go to Hell
by Miriam K. Center
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Category: Literary Fiction
Copyright: February 2006
Sex with Spyros was so exciting because what we felt for each other was so mysterious. Based on passion, our feelings went beyond mere arousal. I filled his need for home and family, he filled my obsession for romance. He let me cling to him and that was all I thought I needed,
“Just think, I’m going to be living alone soon. The divorce is definite,” I said as we drove toward his hotel. But I was just testing Spyros. Nothing had been discussed with Bill.
“Do it for you, not me,” Spyros barked with uncharacteristic irritation. He said earlier that if I stayed married, he would see me only during the day. Greek code of honor, no doubt. You romanced a married woman in the light of day, never after dark. He had added, “If you stay married, I see someone else at night.” His blackmail made up in gall what it lacked in subtlety. I didn’t know if Spyros was implying that he wouldn’t be there at all, but I didn’t want to know. He had been divorced five years earlier after a brief marriage, he made it sound so easy, so simple, like discarding an old pair of shoes.
I wondered again why I, of all people, was having such a hard time with the decision. I, who had always done everything I wanted to do. Well, that’s the fable I told myself. And now I needed Spyros by my side to make the decision stick.
"A sane person always criticizes herself but she has to be careful that self-contempt doesn't take charge. I want you to remember those words."
What Would Margaret Mitchell Say?
Move over Alice Randall: you're not the only author who's been riffing on Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. There's a little-known writer named Miriam K. Center who's been taking Mitchell's famous names in vain, in print. But while Center published her first novel, Scarlett O'Hara Can Go to Hell, in November 2000, she hasn't heard a peep from the Mitchell family, litigious keepers of the Southern lore.
Center says her coming-of-age tale -- published by tiny Black Skylark Singing -- is hardly a retelling of the original. She sees it as more of an homage. But it does invoke the characters for the purpose of commentary. The title itself suggests that the old virgin/whore dichotomy can be retold through the characters and actions of feisty Scarlett O'Hara and gentle Melanie Wilkes. "I chose the name," explains the Savannah, Georgia-based author, "because the book is about white Southern women struggling to not have split personalities, because men in the South put their women on a pedestal so they can knock them off whenever they choose."
For the record, Center has mixed feelings about her non-notoriety -- though being sued isn't generally on a writer's wish list, she certainly wouldn't mind more people knowing about (and buying) her book -- but she's steadfast in her opinion on the Alice Randall case. "Every writer should have the freedom to write what she wants," she says. "It's a violation of the First Amendment."
--from THE BRILL
Some Hard Lessons
“This is not, repeat not, a fly-by-night literary whim of a Savannah debutante whose friends told her she ‘rahts real purty.’ Scarlett O’Hara Can Go To Hell is an entertaining, witty and cliché-free account of a Savannah woman’s very extroverted journey through life in a city that prefers its sins behind closed doors…some hard lessons about family, love, sex and politics along the way, in the end she delights in the whole crazy experience of it all. And chances are you will too.”
--Jim Morekis from CREATIVE LOAFING
True Savannah Storytelling
“One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Naomi’s childhood remembrances. In addition to the difficulties of the Depression, the family must also deal with the turmoil caused by her father’s attempted suicide and nervous breakdown. It’s true Savannah storytelling.”
--Rachel Mason from CONNECT
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