In Mystic Georgia there is nothing but poor white trash andÂ stereotypical blacks who still call the poor white trash Masser. ThisÂ is the home of Joe Lon Mackey, one of the most terrifying protagonistsÂ since Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Â Joe Lon spends his free days running the beer, bonded whiskey, andÂ moonshine business that he inherited from his father, a championshipÂ pitbull breeder whose cruelty to animals is revered by locals, alongÂ with two Negro servants. His sister is a mental case who rubs fecalÂ matter in her hair and watches television all day. His best friend isÂ the town sheriff who lost his leg in Vietnam and who locks up and rapesÂ young, black girls who reject his advances. Most of the time Joe LonÂ Mackey beats up on himself for abusing his wife who takes care of hisÂ two youngest children and wallows in a mixture of past glory andÂ present regrets knowing that his football injuries during high schoolÂ cost him his future. Once a year Mystic has a rattlesnake roundup thatÂ brings alcohol crazed lunatics from all over the Bible Belt to thisÂ small town to hunt, kill, and eat snakes of all kinds. There is also aÂ bikini beauty contest and a pep rally the night before the hunt.
All of this makes for an interesting backdrop to a complete emotionalÂ and spiritual breakdown of the human soul. By the end of the novel JoeÂ Lon can only find comfort in murder, an activity so devoid of contextÂ for him that it makes him giggle. Some have argued that Joe Lon’s is aÂ tale of redemption, but I disagree. At no point is there any redemptionÂ for Joe Lon, but instead his sister Beeder, and the servant’s NegroÂ daughter, Lottie Mae, are the ones who gain some sort of redemption andÂ freedom through the destruction of the oppressive male characters inÂ the story, as does his wife who is freed from his hidden physicalÂ abuse. FEAST OF SNAKES is a novel filled with violence, ignorantÂ behavior, rape, castration, arson, sex, creepy Christians, animalÂ 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 SnakesÂ I literally had nightmares for the next two nights. I have tried toÂ avoid it since. This novel is creepier than anything Steven King everÂ wrote, hands down.