Friday, March 14, 2008

long lost knoxville

I just read a great story by Jack Neely in the Metro Pulse archives. He interviewed Patricia Cash, a former Dolly Parton look-alike prostitute who had "dated" men in the gritty Knoxville of the 1960s.

Many of us here at the Wigshop are big fans of Suttree, Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece placed in the same era of Knoxville that Cash knew. The stuff she describes sound very familiar to anyone who has read the book. Knoxville was a very bizarre place forty years ago. Neely points out:

"Like many other places Patricia knew, it figures in Cormac McCarthy's well-known novel, Suttree, which is on one level a portrait of mid-century Knoxville's underworld so rich and dark that most readers assume its details are fictional."

It's fascinating to read a firsthand account of those times from someone else who knew them. Cash's story sounds like a good outline for a unwritten McCarthy novel. The desperation and sometimes glamor of mid century Knoxville. I'm always amazed when I find out new things about our city's strange history. So seemly pedestrian these days, Knoxville has a vivid world just below the surface, these days and in its past, that requires a little digging. Kudos to Neely for researching and keeping the memories alive in print of Cormac and Patricia's scruffy city.

hat tip: KnoxvilleTalks

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