Southern Cross The Dog by Bill Cheng is a glimpse at the Deep South. I have heard about how dynamite was used to relieve the pressure of a river. It happened in 1927 in this novel. It changed everything for so many who survived. We have a harrowing story of the deep south of the 20’s and 40’s. It’s a tale of black and white, black lynching, white cruelness, and white and black struggles. There are so many interesting characters, intersecting over time or living a parallel life. It’s muddy and filthy and steamy in the swamps and even in the towns. Love is not love; it is rutting. It’s about beating the devil or at least hoping you reach heaven before the devil finds out you’re dead.
“How capricious this place, this world. She’d been alive and now she was dead and no flannel pouch could change that. He recognized that at any given moment, the world could turn itself on its head – all could be taken, all could be returned. One moment we are free, and alive and full of blood, and in the next we are cold. Passing into history. What are the rules?” This is Eli philosophizing. He is a black piano player who has medicinal powers he bestows on folks in the form of a flannel pouch filled with herbs and other devilment.
So much of this merry-go-round is about trying to get off and to set a new path.
Eli explains to Robert, “This is one thing I’ve learned. The one truth God has ever given to a man. And it’s that the past keeps happening to us. No matter who we are or how far we get away, it keeps happening to us.”