Book review by Roy E. Perry: T. R. Pearson’s “Off for the Sweet Hereafter”

Editor’s Note:  Roy E. Perry, the self-proclaimed “amateur philosopher” of Nolensville, TN—wrote book reviews for The Tennessean and Nashville Banner for 30 years. In this new review, Mr. Perry continues his focus on Southern literature published within the past several decades, specifically the work of T.R. Pearson.

A Review of
T. R. Pearson’s Off for the Sweet Hereafter
by Roy E. Perry

T. R. Pearson’s hilarious debut novel A Short History of a Small Place (1985) was greeted by rave reviews. I gave it five stars out of a possible five. His second published novel, Off for the Sweet Hereafter (1986), falls short of his initial offering. I give it three and a half stars.

As the novel begins, a crime wave breaks out around the tiny town of Neely, North Carolina. The local sheriff describes the spree as “mayhem—pure and undiluted” and “willful, vicious, and heinous.” The “pilfering, plundering, and pillaging” eventually ends in murder.

The perp is one Burton Lynch, a simpleton whose gangly, horse-faced, pointy-nosed appearance reminds Neelyites of a cross between Howdy Doody and Mortimer Snerd. His laconic conversations typically feature a simple “yes” or “no.” The plot thickens when he obtains a large-muzzled Harrington and Richardson Buntline revolver and—to impress a young woman with whom he is obsessively infatuated—sends her newspaper clippings of his felonious career.

At an earlier point in the story, Burton Lynch had met a nymphomaniac aptly named Jane Elizabeth Firesheets, a fiery young woman strikingly endowed by Mother Nature. When, after several months of being separated from her, they meet again, she uses her seductive wiles to encourage Burton Lynch to be “somebody significant and important” by becoming an even bolder and more daring outlaw.

In The Tragedy of Macbeth (Act I, Scene VII), Lady Macbeth, seeking to prod her husband into murdering King Duncan, says to Macbeth, “Screw your courage to the sticking-place / And we’ll not fail.” Jane Elizabeth Firesheets is Burton Lynch’s Lady Macbeth. Initiating a torrid affair, Firesheets seduces her reluctant lover to travel an increasingly violent path, while she herself deviously schemes to escape the tragic consequences of her temptations.

By continuing to chronicle the antics and high-jinks of the quaint and curious people of Neely, North Carolina, Off for the Sweet Hereafter contains some hilarious moments. But it is a darker work than A Short History of a Small Place. The novel may offend some readers because of its steamy erotic scenes and rank dialogue.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit:

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at and Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit and/or the page on Facebook:

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew



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