They Call Me Orange Juice: Stories and Essays (Hardcover)
From the time she could barely see over the space bar of her old manual typewriter, to writing her popular southern culture blog, Folkways Nowadays, author Audrey McDonald Atkins has been sharing her down-home stories and essays about life in the South.
In They Call Me Orange Juice, Atkins provides a nostalgic, poignant, and often-hilarious look at growing up in a small South Alabama town and how that upbringing still influences her today. What does it feel like to be the only Episcopalian at a Baptist church? How do you entertain yourself on a two-hour car trip with a dead man? What do you do when your foundation garment goes rogue in the middle of a busy intersection? And what price did they pay for calling her “Orange Juice”?
Atkins answers all these questions and more in her own unmistakable Southern style. She recounts stories about the men who congregated in the police station and the eccentric characters who worked on Main Street, shares words of wisdom from her Granny, and tells how one superstitious old man could literally make it rain even during the dry, dog days of summer. Each person still lives in Atkins’ memory frozen in time just as they were in the 70s, and it’s these ghosts of bygone days who shine through in They Call Me Orange Juice.
About the Author
Audrey McDonald Atkins grew up in the Oil Capital of Alabama, Citronelle, and spent her childhood roaming through the piney woods, swimming in creeks, and rambling about her small town taking in the sights and sounds of the Deep South and storing them away. And from the time she could barely see over the space bar to hack out her own weekly newspaper on a manual typewriter to writing her popular southern culture blog, Folkways Nowadays, Audreys been sharing her funny, poignant, and down-home stories and essays about life in the South. From her parents and grandparents to the men who congregated in the police station and gossiped to the eccentric characters who worked along Main Street, each and every person still lives in Audreys memory frozen in time just as they were in the 70s. Its these ghosts of bygone days that shine through the pages that Audrey writes. Audrey ultimately made her way to the big city of Birmingham after graduating from the University of Montevallo, where she earned a BA in English. While she currently lives in the city and sometimes eats sushi and drinks craft cocktails, her Mayberry-like childhood still gives Audrey a unique and often hilarious outlook on the South and our world.
Blue Ink Review:
Regional differences in the U.S. can make states feel like foreign countries, and the differences are especially vivid in the American South. Author Audrey Atkins set out to demystify her life in Alabama with a blog called “Folkways Nowadays,” and has now collected several of those short pieces in a book. They Call Me Orange Juice is a pleasure front to back: insightful, funny, and chockablock with Southern hospitality.
Atkins writes in a confiding, chatty voice about topics readers might associate with Southern living: the accents, the how-to of proper cornbread and the what-to-do of okra (pro tip: if it’s pickled, don’t put it in soup), the humidity and the havoc it wreaks on one’s hair. She makes a case for civil behavior, defending folks who call her “ma’am,” but don't mistake her politeness for passivity; she calls out bullies, racists, internet trolls and the generally intolerant with full- throated ire. By embracing the Southern clichés we expect, Atkins routinely turns them on their heads, offering us a more complete picture.
There are a handful of recipes (the Nilla Wafer-based rum balls sound especially delicious), family stories and tall tales. On a good day, Atkins “(F)elt like I could conquer the universe with my feminine wiles, disarming wit, and a pocketknife.” She mentions dreaming of the big city writers of the Algonquin Round Table, then reminds us that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were Southern to the bone and did all right by the world of literature. While there are a few typos, crisp editing makes reading a pleasure.
Fans of Lisa Scottoline’s short personal essays will love the humor and heart evident in They
Call Me Orange Juice. It’s a perfect pick-me-up and antidote to the daily grind. Readers will love
it, and likely want more.