Inspired by true stories and real people, Escape Artist is a Southern lit novel-in-progress covering 70 years and four generations of the Aldridge family. We got moonshine, magic, and even murder. Y’all come on in.
“I throwed a jar of pickles at Daddy one time. He went to kick Mama and I throwed that jar of pickles right at him. And he said, ‘What in the world did you do that for?’ And I said, ‘You cuss my mama, you treat my mama like a dog and I’m tired of it.’ Then he come at me like he was gonna get me and I said, ‘I dare you to come and get me.’”
My aunt Lucy speaks so candidly of her trauma, her delicate, sunspotted hands folded across the belly of her worn peach dress. “You gon’ write a story about that?” she asks me.
“Sure am,” I tell her.
“Well, if I’m livin’ when you get it done, I wanna read it.”
Escape Artist is a fictionalized retelling of the true stories passed down to me. At 84, my aunt Lucy is the oldest of the Aldridge clan, our new matriarch. She and her brothers and sisters — my aunts and uncles, my dad — are getting older. I don’t wanna bury their stories with them when the time comes. They believe their stories are worth sharing with the world. And so do I.
Our story starts in September of 1932, on a cattle farm in the backwoods of Greenville, South Carolina, with a moonshiner, a drunk, and a handshake.