In Mystic Georgia there is nothing but poor white trash and stereotypical blacks who still call the poor white trash Masser. This is the home of Joe Lon Mackey, one of the most terrifying protagonists since Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Joe Lon spends his free days running the beer, bonded whiskey, and moonshine business that he inherited from his father, a championship pitbull breeder whose cruelty to animals is revered by locals, along with two Negro servants. His sister is a mental case who rubs fecal matter in her hair and watches television all day. His best friend is the town sheriff who lost his leg in Vietnam and who locks up and rapes young, black girls who reject his advances. Most of the time Joe Lon Mackey beats up on himself for abusing his wife who takes care of his two youngest children and wallows in a mixture of past glory and present regrets knowing that his football injuries during high school cost him his future. Once a year Mystic has a rattlesnake roundup that brings alcohol crazed lunatics from all over the Bible Belt to this small town to hunt, kill, and eat snakes of all kinds. There is also a bikini beauty contest and a pep rally the night before the hunt.
All of this makes for an interesting backdrop to a complete emotional and spiritual breakdown of the human soul. By the end of the novel Joe Lon can only find comfort in murder, an activity so devoid of context for him that it makes him giggle. Some have argued that Joe Lon’s is a tale of redemption, but I disagree. At no point is there any redemption for Joe Lon, but instead his sister Beeder, and the servant’s Negro daughter, Lottie Mae, are the ones who gain some sort of redemption and freedom through the destruction of the oppressive male characters in the story, as does his wife who is freed from his hidden physical abuse. FEAST OF SNAKES is a novel filled with violence, ignorant behavior, rape, castration, arson, sex, creepy Christians, animal cruelty, murder, and fecalphelia.
I was intending on reading more Crews novels but couldn’t after this one. I had already read The Knock Out Artist, which was superb and thought FEAST would be a great progression. After Feast of Snakes I literally had nightmares for the next two nights. I have tried to avoid it since. This novel is creepier than anything Steven King ever wrote, hands down.