For the Ace of Spades, I read "Stella: Red Clay" from Red Clay, Blue Cadillac by Michael Malone. It was a corker. Just wonderful. Set in a small town in the South, it is the story of Stella Dora Doyle, a has-been movie star, and Buddy Hayes, whose father dated her when they were in high school. Stella is on trial for murder after her husband is found shot with her gun outside their mansion.
The story follows Buddy and his encounters with Stella from his childhood into adulthood. Both he and his father have been mildly obsessed with Stella all their lives. It is a brief but telling picture of a small town and how its denizens react to the ups and downs of Stella's life.
The story won the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1997.
I covered another story in Malone's book of short stories back in February ("Marie: Blue Cadillac"), and I am going to repeat some parts of that post here.
January Magazine featured a very long article by J. Kingston Pierce on Michael Malone's books, including an interview, in December 2002. Here is a extract from the interview related to Red Clay, Blue Cadillac.
Can you tell me what, in your mind, distinguishes Southern women from those reared in other parts of the United States?
They're like women in other parts of America, just more so. As Gloria Steinem said about Ginger Rogers: She was doing everything Fred Astaire was doing, just doing it backwards in high heels. Well, Southern women are doing and enduring what other women have to do and endure, but (at least until recently) they had to do it in heels and hats and white gloves and makeup and a sweet smile, with maybe a glass of bourbon and a cigarette to get them through the magnolia part of being a steel magnolia. The women in Red Clay, Blue Cadillac are all very strong people. Sometimes they have to pretend otherwise.That description -- "white gloves and makeup and a sweet smile" -- is so true and very disturbing.