Sunday, February 28, 2016

“At The Corner Of Fleeheart And Pig Turd Alley”

Something strange about Dave Kilbourne, the former longtime Executive Director of the Downtown Chico Business Association. The back cover of his new book says he was “raised up on historic Pawleys Island, which is only loosely attached to the South Carolina low country by the scenic Fiddler Crab Bridge. In his early teens his family relocated upstate to beautiful Aiken where he spent his formative years growing up as a free-range child.”

What’s strange is that the hero of his new novel, Dante Valentime Delancy, a totally fictional creation, shares exactly the same pedigree. He also shares the same penchant as his author for free-range behavior and a love of jokes that one might hear at a drinking establishment. Kilbourne frequents the Sierra Nevada Taproom where much of the book was written; and Dante might show up there yet.

Speaking of devil-may-care Dante, the tone of his life’s story is ably captured by the title of Kilbourne’s novel, “At The Corner Of Fleeheart And Pig Turd Alley” ($14.95 in paperback from Flying Pig Press; available locally at Made In Chico). The cover signpost is a real place, “an actual address in ‘downtown’ Amador City over there by Jackson and Sutter Creek.” In the story the signs are moved to Aiken, and there at the corner sits the Palace Flophouse Pub and Casino Royalé Grille where reside “happy young bachelors all in their mid-twenties,” including Dante and his brother, Mather Lee Delancy.

The book is subtitled “Twenty-Five Acts Of Literary Mischief” and recounts not only Dante’s life but that of his mother, Miss Monsarrat Feliciana Delancy and his father, Clancy “Boomer” Delancy, a “self-certified soothsayer and pyramidologist. … While residing under the same roof, and watching the same I Love Lucy and Ed Sullivan Variety Hour shows, Dante lived with someone who firmly believed the Egyptian pyramids were constructed by beneficent aliens from outer space.”

Dante would go on to serve his country in many ways, from becoming a Clemson (“Go Tigers!”) forestry student to “wrangling various reptiles and serpents in the Savannah River Swamp,” becoming a tenured “Associate Professor of Crocodilian Studies.”

When it comes to pouring out the stories, Kilbourne is no half-pint.

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