A Lagniappe for Readers – “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes”

For my few stalwart, long-suffering and die-hard literati readers who have been too impecunious to purchase one of my books or stories just yet, here is some news you can use (as you wish).

My narcoleptic publisher has roused from one of its long slumbers and decided, By George! It’s time to do some marketing!

One of its devilishly unimaginative ploys is to give away books and stories, “sleepers” they call them (look who’s talking!) and such in order to bait and lure the unsuspecting reader into actually buying something else by the same author.

I am one of those chosen ones, those “same authors,” I have just learned. They tried to coddle and hoodwink me, placate my raised dander as it were, by saying the dern thing was magnificent and deserved “greater exposure.” Of course I agree with that statement, even though I know for a fact that they were lying through their teeth 😉

All of which is to say, starting September 18 and running through September 22, one of my most popular and well-reviewed short stories, “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes,” will be available gratis as an ebook from Amazon.

So here’s more on this freebie scam.




In this very funny and surprising story set in today’s “New South,” a ten year-old boy’s efforts to avoid eating stewed prunes for breakfast sets in motion a series of calamitous events that wreaks havoc on his entire family, himself included. Both a window on the dynamics and web of interlocking relationships and mutual responsibilities that are common to all families, it is also a shrewd analysis of how “truth” is used and abused as a justification for all manner of nefarious activity that is fundamentally selfish and at odds with the self-sacrifice necessary to hold a family together. But this description is way too serious and unjust to the surreal and uproarious comedy at the heart of the story.

The characters of Jerrold, his Aunty Gin, his mother Sharleen and father Randolph (and even the Yorkie Suzie) are among the most colorful and memorable you will ever meet. Their personalities and the events of the story will entertain you long after you finish reading and perhaps will make you reconsider similar situations and circumstances in your own life in which a simple and seemingly unimportant act launched a host of hilarious unintended consequences.

Couched in the everyday speech of the contemporary south, and told primarily and ironically from Jerrold’s imperfect point of view, it quickly becomes clear that our young hero is a modern Tom Sawyer—and thereby hangs a tale (and his tail too).


5 out of 5 stars

“The Hills and Valleys of Story Itself” September 3, 2011

By Sudye A. Cauthen

Format: Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

Reading Margaret Langstaff, creator of the intrepid Garnet Sullivan (Marlin Darlin’)Marlin, Darlin’: Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida #1, I’m on a linguistic romp, a jazzed-up journey of language, each word perfectly chosen and placed.

In PRUNES, Langstaff’s young hero Jerrold , with the assistance of his seriously peculiar Aunty Gin, deploys his hated breakfast prunes from a homemade, PVC cannon, taking revenge on the authority figures in his life.

Inspired by the supposed heroics of southern knights like Nathan Bedford Forrest, General Robert E. Lee, and Andrew Jackson, Jerrold takes aim at the rules and the enforcers of rules that govern his boyhood, a boyhood enlivened by tales of the old south, and fully rendered by way of his imagination, i. e.

“His head was swimming with warm savory daydreams of campfires, fires this size in places like this, surrounded by johnny rebs, strains of Dixie comin from harmonicas and fiddles. He could see the rumpled bedrolls laid out in rows across the ground, the rifles propped up everywhere, the revolvers stuffed in the drawn tight belts, the fallin apart at the seams boots and uniforms, the dark circles under the eyes of the next to nuthin but bones privates in the infantry, some a them just plum barefoot, who had marched 30 miles and fought 10 hours that day, he could smell their wounds in the air, the half-dried blood, see the slings and bandages many wore, their dirty bruised faces, he could hear the horses stomping, sighing, smell their manure and salty dried sweat, the make-do little bits of chicken and pork sizzling on the spits, and a little futher off, the Gen’ls big tent all lit up and glowing against the night sky with a thousand candles inside, and the shadows of the officers pacing back and forth, and the stark silhouette of the Gen’ls fist raised high against their lame excuses, bald-faced lies and cowardice. Defiant.”

In PRUNES, we get more than Jerrold’s story of revenge on loathsome breakfasts because, as surely as the southern heroes he admires, we are, by way of Langstaff’s wit and adroit use of language, simultaneously traveling the hills and valleys of story itself.

5.0 out of 5 stars

“Southern Humor Cures Southern Drama” September 2, 2011

By Kathy Feigel

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

When one chooses to read Margaret Jean Langstaff’s writings, a clear understanding of what it means to be Southern must be appreciated. For Margaret has a perceptive understanding of characters in her stories, and a fabulous penetrating view of Southern characterizations. Like the boy Jerrold in her latest endeavor, “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes,” a young Southern boy who always does his best to please his Mama, unless she is not looking. Like the story from Kundera, from which the title is paraphrased, this one also carries the dichotomy of lightness and heaviness, albeit with a Southern drawl. Told with tongue in cheek manner, this story is deeper than the surface appearance. Take the time to delve the deep and you will find words that create hand-drawn settings where you can smell the Magnolia, and drown in the air of the deep South.

When Jerrold is faced with pleasing his Mama by eating a daily dose of prunes (the Southern remedy for all ails, like duct tape, prunes can fix anything) in order to, well as his Mama says; “save your life,” it is more than he can stand and he begins a battle plan to destroy the prunes. Onto this colorful stage steps his Aunt Ginny, who from side conversations we realize supports Jerrold’s family, and is considered by his Mama, to be a less than desirable family member.

If the truth were to be told, every Southern family has a rich history filled with characters like Aunt Ginny, a woman who does not meet the daily standards of normal. Yet, in those families she is often times the one who holds the purse strings, and in Jerrold’s case, his parents seem to have taken advantage of her eccentric state to relieve her of more than they should have. Using quotes from Southern Generals from throughout history, Aunt Ginny helps Jerrold plan a strategic battle plan that will not only rid him of the prunes, but perhaps give a woman who has been taken advantage of a little Southern revenge as well.

The “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes” has been written by someone with the mind-set of a Southern humorist, and Margaret Langstaff is proving to be as capable as Augustus Longstreet in giving her characters the undertone of heavy drama that is often best dealt with using Southern humor.

About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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8 Responses to A Lagniappe for Readers – “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes”

  1. That’s fabulous. I hope this brings you many new readers. The reviews look fantastic.


  2. Lonie Fulgham says:

    Lagniappe is a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get. I’d say the same for “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes”, “Lover Boy” (which I’ve yet to finish but am thoroughly enjoying) and my personal favorite, “the Dead Goat Scrolls”. Thank you for the word & work. We can’t wait for more… Unless you need more time 🙂


    • Thank you so much for your generous remarks about the stories. Writers rarely receive what seems like an honest pat on the head or thumbs up from enthusiastic readers. I am thrilled you enjoyed the stories and went to the trouble of telling me so. I’ve got five (no less) in the pipeline and hope to have a new one out late next month. Humdingers, I think 😉


  3. Pingback: FREE Fantastic Ebook Read! A Lagniappe for Readers – “The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes” | Reconsiderations

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