Thursday, June 9, 2011

TWISTED TALES: Trash Can Punch with Ron Cooper

Welcome to another edition of Twisted Tales. This week I'm hosting the author of Purple Jesus and Hume's Fork, Ron Cooper. To celebrate the book, I've decided to host my own Purple Jesus BBQ. Ron has kindly passed along a secret drink recipe. This should get me started on planning the menu, but I need your help. Either leave me a suggestion of what I should serve in the comments, or include it on the form when you enter the book giveaway! Oh yes, I am giving away a SIGNED HARDBACK copy of Purple Jesus too.

At the end of the contest, I will post the collective Purple Jesus BBQ Menu. Suggestions can be serious, funny, made-up -- the more eclectic the better. My guests are pigs, so don't let me down.

Author Ron Cooper
Purple Jesus: A Novel
My 5 STAR Review
didn't like itit was okliked itreally liked itit was amazing (my current rating)
What does a monk, condensed milk and a town of backward country hicks have in common? Purple Jesus! I admit I was skeptical when I glimpsed a review claiming that this book belongs on the shelf beside Flannery O'Connor's, Wise Blood, which is one of my all-time favorites. However, after reading Ron Cooper's writing, I stand-up and applaud. Hell, I cheer! I give a woot, dance a jig and shout amen. Yes, indeed Purvis and his crew can toe the line beside O'Connor's religious misfits. So how does it compare? The dialogue is authentic, Cooper's voice original and the symbolism evokes humor, philosophical thought and moral dilemmas as well as perceived sexuality. A string of items are presented and seemingly unrelated, somehow connect and relate. For me, this story was about perception and assigning meaning to anything. An extremely entertaining read with a deep undercurrent. If you are a fan of Flannery O'Connor or Chuck Palahniuk, you will dig this book. I highly recommend. I received the ebook for review, but intend to purchase the paperback because this book needs to be on my shelf so I can read it again, and again. I'd love to discuss the story in a book club forum.

Q&A With the Master of the Magic Punch

How is your perspective different from that of other Southern novelists?

My advantage over Faulkner and O’Connor and others is that I can learn from them! I can also take a certain ironic stance towards their treatments of the South. Southerners still deal with race, religion, class, and other issues in ways that residents of other regions of the country do not, but also in ways that differ from those of Robert Penn Warren’s South or Carson McCullers’s South. My philosophical background provides a different sort of insight into those issues.

Where did your three lead characters—Purvis Driggers, Martha Umphlett, and Brother Andrew come from? What do they have in common? 

They’re all composites. Purvis is in part based upon a childhood friend with whom I’ve lost touch but I imagine may have ended up much like Purvis. He’s also inspired by a Flannery O’Connor character. Andrew has a heavy dose of a family friend who’s a former monk, but his personality traits come from other people I’ve known. I thought of him as looking like a friend of mine from graduate school. Martha, well, I think she came almost entirely from my imagination. All of them are seeking something they cannot quite articulate—meaning, connection, revenge—and trying to escape something that is restricting them yet not altogether external.

“Purple Jesus” means many things throughout the novel. What does it mean to you?

The principal meaning of the term is a drink mad from fruit juice, grain alcohol, and a great deal of sugar mixed up in a big barrel. Where I’m from, it was often a teenager’s first illicit taste of liquor, one they would not soon forget. However, you cannot call something Jesus, purple or otherwise, without it forcing other meanings upon you. Some will surprise and probably offend many readers.

What do you hope readers take away from Purple Jesus?

Like these characters, people can be from the backwoods and still have all the complexities as city sophisticates. They rarely have the means, however, of dealing with those issues as do their urban counterparts. Also,  people can act irrationally, obsessively, and desperately because of unrequited love and unresolved pain while only dimly aware of their motives. Mostly, though, I hope readers take away a few good laughs.
*Q&A provided by author Ron Cooper's media package with permission to display.  Not original to Bitsy Bling Books.

About Ron Cooper, Author of Purple Jesus
Ron Cooper was born and raised in the South Carolina Low Country.

He received a B.A. in philosophy from the College of Charleston, an M.A. from the University of South Carolina, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

He moved to Florida in 1988 and is Professor of Humanities at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, where he lives with his wife Sandra (also a CCF faculty member) and their three children.

Ron is a past president of the Florida Philosophical Association, has published philosophical essays, and is the author of Heidegger and Whitehead: A Phenomenological Examination into the Intelligibility of Experience. His fiction has appeared in publications such as Yalobusha Review, Apostrophe, Timber Creek Review, and The Blotter.

His much-praised debut novel, Hume’s Fork, available from Bancroft Press, drew comparisons to John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, and earned him recognition as a finalist for the Bread Loaf Conference’s Bakeless Literary Prize.
Cooper, far left, with Margaret Atwood, at a Belmont University conference in Fall 2010.

June 24, 1:00 PM, Litchfield Books, Pawley's Island SC
June 25, 1:00 PM, Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston SC
June 26, 3:00 PM, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill NC
July 10, 3:00 PM, Malaprop's, Asheville NC

It's summertime and that means time for a backyard (backwoods) BBQ! I asked Ron if he'd share a Purple Jesus (the drink) recipe with us. He generously sent two versions. Now, the version you choose will likely depend on which coast and/or country you live in, your guests, and how much vomit you're willing to hose off your patio and lawn. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to host my own Purple Jesus gathering.  Don't forget to leave a comment for my menu!  What else should I serve?

PURPLE JESUS - Genteel recipe
  • 1 part Everclear
  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part ginger ale
  • 1 part grape juice
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice
PURPLE JEESUSSS - Backwoods, hell-raising recipe
  • Start with a large, plastic trash can, say 30 gallons. Do not use a metal can--a chemical reaction, possibly explosion, is likely. (Washing the trash can is optional--no microbe could survive in this mixture.)
  • Fill about half with grain alcohol.
  • Fill to six inches from the top of the trash can with grape Kool Aid. Make sure the Kool Aid has about 50% more sugar than is called for.
  • Add one dozen oranges and one half-dozen grapefruit, halved.
  • Stir with a boat paddle.
  • Invite a bunch of friends. Dip large cups directly into the can--no ladle.
  • Make sure no one has to work the next day.
  • After everyone has had a couple of cups, add other ingredients just for the hell of it. You won't be able to taste them anyway.
  • Save some to drink when you awake; aspirin will have no effect.
  • Expect to find people sleeping in your yard in the morning.
To enter fill out the form below and submit.  One little catch, you need to give me a suggestion for something to serve at my Purple Jesus BBQ.  It can be serious or funny.  I'll post the 'menu' when the contest ends.


  1. Thank you for the chance to win this book!

  2. BlueHost is ultimately one of the best web-hosting provider with plans for any hosting requirements.