Literary Fiction / Memoir
Release Date: October 1, 2022
Publisher: Mapleton Press
A young girl in a small southern town in the 80’s enlists the help of an unlikely group of friends and family to help her survive an unconventional, sometimes abusive childhood. Often left in the care of a paranoid schizophrenic uncle who lives downstairs and a psychotic uncle upstairs, the narrator stacks up a few heartbreaking observations. When her mother abandons her in favor of her addictions, the girl goes to live with her grandmother but finds happiness cut short when her grandmother dies. Her uncle believes the voices in his head have trapped his mother in a basement across town and as he slowly looses grip on reality, he also looses his ability to take care of her. Taken to a Group Home to live until a case worker can find her a place to go, her mom’s ex shows up and is forced to make a choice.
Praise for Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond:
One child's vulnerability and resilience to forces beyond her control make a raw and colorful splash in this tenderhearted memoir.
-RECOMMENDED by the US Review
"Skinny Dipping in a Dirty Pond is highly recommended for fiction readers looking for coming-of-age and family narratives that are anything but ordinary and predictable. Its lively tone packs a punch."
- D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
... I have to tell you that as I enjoyed this great book, I realized no 9 year old could have the thoughts or quick comebacks that Cotton does. Any kid that had to go through what Cotton did would become old way before their time. But in truth, this is mostly a story of Cotton telling about her life but living in the moment. Does that sound nuts? Well, whatever the technique, it worked. It made a story so very poignant that it touched my heart. Lis-Anna Langston created a character you will fall in love with and a book you'll be sad is over when you turn the last page.
- Our Town Book Reviews
A reader in a
review commented on how they didn’t know how to feel about a character named
Cotton. I definitely understood. We put a lot of baggage on this plant, which
has come to define entire periods of American history. Dark times. With that in
mind, I thought a post about how the character came to this name was necessary.
I obviously had a terrible relationship with my mother.
An addict that cycled through psychosis like clockwork was extremely difficult
to live with. She was mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive. As the
years wore on, these abuses became more pronounced. She was never pleasant.
Nice was not a word I’d ever use to describe my mother. She never liked me. A
bastard child she was forced to take everywhere, I only represented the parts
of her she hated. This was obvious to me from an early age.
When I was four, Larry drove us down one of those
long, flat Mississippi highways. Fields stretched out in all directions, full
of strange brown plants. My mother asked Larry to pull to the side of the road.
He parked on the shoulder, and my mother told me to get out of the backseat.
That made me nervous. My mother never asked me to come near her unless she was
going to hit me. I hesitated. Larry wasn’t sure either. I could tell by the
look on his face. My mother was as unpredictable to him as she was to me.
Still, after a few minutes, he finally suggested I go see what she wanted. By
then, she was already out in the fields. Because he had his eye on me, I slid
across the black velour seat and got out.
My mother had knelt down in a row and waved me over. I
walked slowly, looking around at the strange scraggly plants. When I got close,
my mother showed me a cotton plant. It hadn’t bloomed yet, but it had started.
The puffy white peeked out around the hard brown casing.
She pulled a piece of Cotton and held it out. “Touch
it,” she said.
I did and asked what it was.
“It’s cotton,” she said excitedly.
“Cotton? Like my pants?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “Isn’t it amazing?”
“My pants came from plants?” I looked back at Larry,
who was close enough to hear us.
“It’s true,” he yelled from the driver’s seat.
I looked around. It was so bizarre to me that fabric
grew from a plant. I didn’t yet know of linen, hemp, and flax. The world was a
fantastic place. My mother broke several cotton bolls off so I could take them
back to the car. I kept them for years. I learned about cotton fields and what
they represented from my grandmother. It bothered me that one of the only good
memories of my mother was poisoned by the past. Still, I expected it and threw
the cotton bolls away. To this day, it remains one of only three good memories of
my mother. She was as complicated and poisonous as those cotton fields.
About the Author
Lis Anna-Langston was raised along the winding current of the Mississippi River on a steady diet of dog-eared books. She attended a Creative and Performing Arts School from middle school until graduation and went on to study Literature at Webster University. Her two novels, Gobbledy and Tupelo Honey have won the Parents’ Choice Gold, Moonbeam Book Award, Independent Press Award, Benjamin Franklin Book Award and NYC Big Book Awards. Twice nominated for the Pushcart award and Finalist in the Brighthorse Book Prize, William Faulkner Fiction Contest and Thomas Wolfe Fiction Award, her work has been published in The Literary Review, Emerson Review, The Merrimack Review, Emrys Journal, The MacGuffin, Sand Hill Review and dozens of other literary journals. She draws badly, sings loudly, loves ketchup, starry skies & stories with happy aliens.
You can find her in the wilds of South Carolina plucking stories out of thin air.