Fancy Strut: A Novel by Lee SmithFancy Strut: A Novel by Lee Smith

Fancy Strut: A Novel

byLee Smith

Paperback | September 29, 1996

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“[Lee Smith] re-creates a vanished way of life with stunning authenticity.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

Speed, Alabama, is frantically preparing for the event of a lifetime: Sesquicentennial Week. And all her proud citizens are kicking up their heels in a lively, pompous fancy strut. . . .

Praise for Fancy Strut

“Smith offers ripe entertainment.”People

“[She] brings the storytelling gift off the porch swing and onto the printed page with an often breathtaking vitality. . . . A writer of rare talent.”Publishers Weekly

“A spellbinding storyteller.”Newsday

“[Smith] has the gift of a McCullers or a Faulkner of catching the sorrow, irony, and humor indigenous to the Southern temperament.”Booklist
Lee Smith was born in Grundy, VA. She is author of many novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Last Girls, and most recently Guests On Earth. She is a recipient of the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature, and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award...
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Title:Fancy Strut: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.18 × 5.54 × 0.77 inPublished:September 29, 1996Publisher:Random House Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345410394

ISBN - 13:9780345410399

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Reviews

Bookclub Guide

1. The title of this novel is Fancy Strut. What does thetitle of the book mean to you, both literally and figuratively?Does your interpretation of the title change as the bookprogresses? How?2. Why do you think Lee Smith chooses to begin and endthe book with Miss Iona? In which ways is she a symbolfor the town of Speed and what it’s gone through over thefestival period? How does her story interweave with thatof Speed? What does she realize as the book progresses,both about the town and about herself?3. The theme of appearance versus reality threadsthroughout Fancy Strut. How does the SesquicentennialFestival provide a showcase for this conflict? In whichways does it make a turning point within Speed? Howdoes the involvement of the White Company, an outsideorganization that conducts the festival, bring this struggleto the surface? How is the White Company different fromhow it appears?4. How do daydreams and imagination provide an outletin Fancy Strut? Who in the town grapples with the conflictbetween fantasy and reality? In your opinion, are thesefantasies healthy or unhealthy for those who have them?Who is most likely to turn his or her daydreams intoreality, and why?5. In which ways is Bob Pitt much different from how heappears to the outside world? What drives him toward hisdaydreams? How does his attitude toward his family, hisrole in the festival, and Sandy underscore his struggle?6. “We have to preserve our anachronisms,” ManlyNeighbors tells Monica (page 64). In which ways isthe town of Speed itself an anachronism, especiallyconsidering racial and social factors? How are certainoppositional forces in the town, such as Bill Higginsand Lloyd, emblematic of the fight between the statusquo and modern changes? How does the balance ofpower shift as the novel progresses?7. The book follows the thoughts and actions of manypeople in the town, including Bob Pitt, Monica, Bevo,Lloyd, and Buck Fire. What effect does this shifting pointof view have on the story? How does this contribute to acohesive narrative and to painting a complete picture ofSpeed? Is there one individual whom you view as the“voice” of the narrative? If so, who, and why?8. In which ways is Monica Neighbors a typical smalltownwife and society lady? How does she chafe underthese classifications? How does she express her ennui,both externally and in her daydreams?9. Discuss the evolution of Ruthie. What is her motivationfor entering the Queen pageant? In which ways does thisaction change her life? Why is Ron the Mouth so takenwith her? Why do you think she succumbs, finally, to hisadvances—is she in love, or are her feelings morepragmatic in nature?10. What does being Queen represent for each of thecontestants? How do they see the crown as a gateway tobigger and better things? How do organizers spin theelection process as fair and democratic? Is it really? Inyour opinion, is the right person chosen as queen? Whyor why not?11. Why does Buck Fire appeal to the women of thetown? What, originally, does Monica think of him, andhow does her mind change as the book progresses? Whydoes Monica want to have a baby by the end of the book?Do you think she’s truly tired of herself, as she says?Why or why not?12. What significance does the housing suit broughtby the Speed Junior College students have for both thefestival and for the town as a whole? What motivatesboth Theolester and Chall toward the suit? In which waysare they idealistic, and in which ways pragmatic? Whydo you think Lloyd becomes their lawyer? How do othersin the town, particularly the mayor, react to the nascentcivil rights movement, both in the town and in thenation?13. Why does Miss Iona write obituaries for themajorettes, and for Sandy, Frances, and Manly? Whydoes this group inspire such particular contempt fromher? How is each symbolic of a changing world that sheneither likes nor understands?14. How does the fire at the pageant galvanize the town?Why does Bevo set it in motion? Does Sharon perceiveBevo differently after the fire? How is the looting of thetown significant? Does it portend larger national events tocome?15. What do you think happens to the characters in FancyStrut after the Sesquicentennial and fire? Whom can yousee leaving Speed to embark upon a new life? Who wouldbe most likely to attempt to remain in the town andmaintain the status quo? Why?

Editorial Reviews

“[Lee Smith] re-creates a vanished way of life with stunning authenticity.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer“Smith offers ripe entertainment.”—People“[She] brings the storytelling gift off the porch swing and onto the printed page with an often breathtaking vitality. . . . A writer of rare talent.”—Publishers Weekly“A spellbinding storyteller.”—Newsday“[Smith] has the gift of a McCullers or a Faulkner of catching the sorrow, irony, and humor indigenous to the Southern temperament.”—Booklist