Your Breasts Are Like Fawns 

A Baptist boy discovers the Song of Solomon—and a real girl, too

It’s 1936, middle of the Great Depression, and 19-year-old Travis Henry is certainly depressed. As a typical young man, he’s obsessed with girls and his lack of success with them.
by Faye Jones

It’s 1936, middle of the Great Depression, and 19-year-old Travis Henry is certainly depressed. As a typical young man, he’s obsessed with girls and his lack of success with them. As a preacher’s son, he is obsessed with God. Mix the two together, and you have one worried virgin: “What did I want out of life? Only one thing, really. To make love to a beautiful girl before the Rapture…. My worst fear was that I’d finally find a girl, we’d tie the knot, and then, on our wedding night—just when she was about to drop her dress—Jesus would come riding in on that infernal horse and whisk us up to heaven, where we’d be like angels and never get to have sex.” Local novelist Sammy Conner, a self-proclaimed recovering Baptist, takes on God, sex, family and love in his debut comic novel, The Dirty Parts of the Bible (Booksurge, 271 pp., $13.95). It’s a fun read, even for those who are still in the fold.

After a freak accident, Travis’ father is left without his sight and a way to provide for his family. Years before, he threw some money down a well, convinced it was the fruit of a sinful act (singing), and he now sends Travis on a journey to Texas to retrieve it. Like Huckleberry Finn before him, Travis embarks on a series of adventures. In Chicago, he meets a prostitute (although with no heart of gold) and winds up the next morning with his chastity still intact and his wallet a good deal lighter. Forced to find another way to travel, he meets a black man named Craw, who has an eye for the ladies, knows how to heal all sorts of ailments and philosophizes on myriad topics: “Hoboes stand on the fringes, refusing to put on any costumes. We reject the gold and silk and finery of this life, preferring to stand as signs of contradiction—witnesses to the truth.”

Craw and Travis do make it to Texas, where Travis searches for his father’s money, a task that seems less urgent after he meets Sarah, a young woman under a curse.

Part coming-of-age novel, part fairy tale, The Dirty Parts of the Bible is entertaining. Travis, while naive, is an acute observer of the inconsistencies of religion, and only the most committed atheist would fail to root for him to find his place in the spiritual world. The ending is a little too pat, but as Craw might say, “It’s the journey that matters.”

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