Tag Archives: Aunt Dorothy

Flagg, Fannie: Standing in the Rainbow (2002)

Cover photo: Corbis.

As a character in this book I can tell you that everything in it really did happen, so I can highly recommend it without any qualms whatsoever. With this quote from Mrs. Tot Whooten we are once again brought into the universe that one of my favorite authors has created for my and your pleasure.

Fannie Flagg has the gift, the gift I tend to on and on about without being able to define exactly what it is. Most of us have probably experienced the Author Gift at least once. You know those times when you are dragged into a piece of writing while struggling to keep yourself IRL at the same time. What a wonderful time to be a Reader.

Me, I love Aunt Dorothy, our radio-host, and source of information about the happenings in Southern Missouri. She is as complex and well-rounded as a written character can be. Finding her own way around her experiences has made her into the loving and straight-forward (Southern style) person that she is. There is something about the Southern style that is appealing even to this Viking-hearted Norwegian.

The winner!” screamed Ward McIntire and the audience was on its feet applauding. What glory. What a triumph. Five minutes later Bobby ran into the Trolley Car Diner with gum still sticking to his eyelashes and ears, waving his free-pass book in the air, yelling, “JIMMY … I WON … I DIDN’T GET RATTLED. I WON!” But before Jimmy had a chance to congratulate him he had to run out the door, headed for the drugstore to tell his father. When he got home his mother had to use kerosene to get all the gum out of his hair, and he used up all twenty-five passes in less than a week taking everybody to the movies but he didn’t care. He had blown the biggest bubble in the history of the contest, people said. Maybe the biggest in the entire state. From that day on he felt special.

How can you not love characters like that. Tot, Bobby, Aunt Dorothy, the Oatman Family, Hamm, Charlie and Anna Lee are all characters that interact and add to the quality of Standing in the Rainbow. I hope you get as much pleasure out of reading Standing in the Rainbow as I did.

Flagg, Fannie: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (1998)

Fannie Flagg is four years younger than my mother and six years younger than my dad. As such, many of their experiences have been similar. Technological advances have followed the same tempo even though they are from different countries.

Cover photo: Elliot Erwitt/Magnum

The jump between the media world in the 1940’s, represented by Aunt Dorothy’s radio program, and the media world of the 1970’s, represented by Dena Nordstrøm’s television job, is immense yet non-existent. Gossip and social mores are often more important than politics and the “larger” issues.

Once again Fannie Flagg takes us to the lives of people living in the South of US. This time we visit Missouri and the phenomenon “passing”. Racial passing refers to a person classified as a member of one racial/social group attempting to be accepted as a member of a different racial/social group (Wikipedia).

It is one thing for me as a whiteish woman to sit here wondering at a world that makes so many of its citizens feel they need to hide their origins. To me it is an abstract exercise. For others it is not. People (probably myself included) attach shame to attributes that come with birth (whether these be physical or sociological). Imagine the fear of discovery of that “terrible/uncivilised/evil/…” quality. Sometimes these fears are founded and sometimes (fortunately) they are not.

Unravelling the mysteries of the past brings about surprises and feelings of betrayal, loss and love with the characters of Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! Fannie Flagg gives us an opportunity to face our own prejudices in a manner that brings us into the world of gossip and suspense that media is (whether it be new or old). As with Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is “utterly irresistible” (Time). You will miss something truly wonderful if you choose not to read this novel.