Book Review by Roy E. Perry: T.R. Pearson’s “Call and Response”


Editor’s Note:  Roy E. Perry of Nolensville, Tennessee wrote book reviews for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for more than 30 years. Dubbing himself “the amateur philosopher,” Mr. Perry keeps a keen eye on literary and philosophical works of note, and periodically shares his thoughts about them with our readers. In his latest book review, Mr. Perry again spotlights a work by Southern literary artist T.R. Pearson.


In Call and Response (1989)—the fourth volume of T. R. Pearson’s “trilogy plus one” that includes A Short History of a Small Place (1985), Off for the Sweet Hereafter (1986), and The Last of How It Was (1987)—Pearson returns to the fictional town of Neely, North Carolina for more hilarious fun and folly.

As the novel opens, several rednecks go to a striptease show at the county fair, and Nestor Tudor becomes “guardian of the walnut.” (Don’t ask me for the seedy details!).

Meanwhile, a kaleidoscope of other sub-plots bubble up and twirl around . . .

* A self-appointed transcendental guru offers encounter classes to help certain citizens delve, fathom, plumb, and probe more deeply into their psyches, so they can become more spiritually uplifted;

* Mrs. Philip J. King’s menopausal hot and cold flashes make life miserable for her longsuffering husband, who buys a gnome for her yard—a gnome Mrs. King insists she can’t live without, then infuriatingly detests;

* “Raymond,” a smooth-talking city slicker, charms and bamboozles five silly, elderly women into buying unneeded services and then presents them with exorbitant bills.

The plot thickens when Miss Mary Alice Celestine Lefler, a femme fatale who exudes sensual smoke, arrives on the scene and causes the Neely telephones to sizzle with defamatory gossip.

Nestled like Chinese boxes, these and other stories-within-stories regale the reader on virtually every page. Call and Response is the author’s best effort since his stunningly successful debut novel, A Short History of a Small Place. No mean psychologist, T. R. Pearson lays bare the faults, flaws, and foibles of the male and female Neelyites—their conceits, passions, deceits, prejudices, and hypocrisies—all  with side-splitting humor. If you haven’t yet discovered Pearson, you’re missing a treat.

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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