Book Review by Roy E. Perry: T.R. Pearson’s “Glad News of the Natural World”



T. R. Pearson’s first novel, A Short History of a Small Place (1985), marked the appearance of a comic masterpiece. Featuring a young man named Louis Benfield, it celebrated the quirky denizens of Neely, North Carolina.

Now, in the follow-up Glad News of the Natural World (2005), an older but no wiser Louis Benfield leaves his hometown and ventures to the Big Apple, where he encounters shifty characters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

For a while, Louis works as a wretchedly paid trainee at Meridian Life and Casualty insurance firm, working his way down the corporate ladder, when finally his lack of ambition gets him canned.

Louis finds temporary jobs: driving a sort of glorified cab; doing spot commercials as a quasi-professional actor; restoring malfunctioning merchandise for a shady mobster whose Frigidaire contains body parts. “Clearly the stuff was stolen,” Louis muses, “and with every repair I was leaving myself exposed to some sort of facilitation or accessory indictment.”

Strangely enough, the mob boss believes the feckless Louis would make an excellent husband for his daughter Rachel, a comely and willowy beauty with copper hair and green eyes. Sounds good to Louis, for he has become helplessly (and hopelessly) smitten by the charms of this high-priced call girl.

When tragedy strikes in Neely, Louis returns to his hometown in an effort to tie up the tattered loose ends of his life. Will Louis cease being a loser? Will he find love, fulfillment, and happiness?

Alas, there’s no satisfying resolution here. Meandering to an uneventful end, Glad News of the Natural World is not one of Pearson’s best—unless one relishes sad, depressing satire that contains less zany burlesque and hilarious slapstick than the author’s previous works.

If this novel has a moral, it’s that our lives follow a checkered, unpredictable course. One thing leads to another and, small, seemingly insignificant decisions cause us to arrive at unplanned destinations.

Here’s a sample of Pearson’s prose: “There are people who thrill to the reach and wonder of a clear night sky, who take for beatific the variety in nature and elect to feel in every breeze the hot breath of their Savior. My father was more a devotee of human vice and folly, an outright connoisseur of foolishness. He nursed an abiding faith (I’ll call it) in the proposition that some people are just too [expletive deleted] peculiar for words, which became his unofficial motto and prevailing sentiment.”

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:

Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.


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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