Cover image for American pop : a novel / Snowden Wright.
Title:
American pop : a novel / Snowden Wright.
ISBN:
9780062697745
Publication Information:
New York, NY : William Morrow, [2019]
Physical Description:
386 pages : genealogical table ; 24 cm
Abstract:
"Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, an epic saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty - the Forsters, founders of the world's first major soft-drink company - against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history"-- Provided by publisher.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more. As a young boy in Mississippi he worked twelve-hour days at his father's drugstore; to his invention of a fizzy drink that would transform him into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company. Houghton and his wife Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they'll one day become world leaders. But eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician, never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. Younger twins Ramsey and Lance are rivals in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold is slowed by a mental disability. Now Houghton must seriously consider who should control the company after he's gone. -- adapted from jacket
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Summary

Summary

"Mr. Wright's imagined history of the rise and fall of the sugary drink empire is so robust and recognizable that you might feel nostalgic for the taste of a soda you've never had." - Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF FEBRUARY 2019 BY Parade * Cosmopolitan * Town & Country * AARP * InStyle * Garden & Gun * Vol. 1 Brooklyn

The story of a family.

The story of an empire.

The story of a nation.

Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, a saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty--the Forsters, founders of the world's first major soft-drink company--against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.



The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more--from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father's drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they'll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the "infernal twins," are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability--and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he's gone.

An irresistible tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop blends fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne's words, "families are always rising and falling in America," and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory--and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wright (Play Pretty Blues) follows three generations of a wealthy family riddled with secrets in his sweeping yet intimate historical novel. Houghton Forster launches a commercial empire in early 20th-century Mississippi with his soft drink, PanCola. Its success puts immense pressure on the family to live up to its station. Houghton's oldest son, Montgomery, returns from WWI to pursue a political career but harbors emotional wounds over the death of his male lover. The second son, Harold, outlives the clan and runs a ramshackle museum after the family's fortune fails. The youngest are fraternal twins: thoughtlessly cruel Lance, and Ramsey, who pursues an affair in Paris with singer Josephine Baker after her disappointing marriage to a Hollywood executive. The final generation includes Montgomery's ambitious daughter Imogene, who uses a wheelchair due to polio and attempts to salvage the company after her brother's poor business choices. Wright's nonchronological zipping between characters creates a complex, engaging mosaic leavened with wry humor. Real and imagined scholarly citations provide context, and a subplot about the soda's secret ingredient offers intrigue. This smart and tragic exploration of American history will make a splash among fans of family sagas. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME Entertainment. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

"Southerners are only as good as their ability to tell a story," declares this novel's unnamed third-person narrator. Judging by the effervescent and poignant multigenerational family drama as recounted here, Mississippi-born Wright is one excellent Southerner. As in his award-winning debut novel, Play Pretty Blues, the author uses an unorthodox nonlinear narrative style to trace the rise and fall of the Forsters and their soft drink empire, the Panola Cola Company. Founder Houghton Forster, the son of Scottish immigrants, and his Southern aristocratic wife, Annabel, raise their children with the expectation that they, too, will make their mark upon the world. However, eldest son Montgomery is haunted by his lost love, Nicholas is killed during the Great War, fraternal twins Ramsey and Lance show little interest in their inheritance, and gentle Harold is slowed by a mental disability. Ultimately, Houghton's decision to leave Panola Cola to spoiled grandson Nicholas leads to ruin. VERDICT Wealthy white families in decline are a staple of Southern fiction, but Wright spins this familiar tale with a fresh exuberance and flair that will engage fans of Nancy Lemann and James Wilcox despite one-too-many narrative digressions and some skimpy characterization. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/18.]-Wilda Williams, New York © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.