James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

Notes on the DIXIANA Saga (Part 3)

After two prior novelistic forays, what more could possibly occur in the Southern-fried universe of my series DIXIANA? Despite the intensity of the narrative peaks at the conclusion of DOWN IN DIXIANA, much remains unresolved for the characters caught in the personal and social dramas of my Edgewater County literary world.

Here, then, is the synopsis of the third of three books. I’ve tried to make this post summarizing the events of DIXIANA DARLING as nonspecific and spoiler-free as possible, but future readers wishing to remain as pristine as possible may wish to lightly tread.

Notes on the DIXIANA Saga Part One

Notes on the DIXIANA Saga Part Two

Dixiana Depot 2


Part One: For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky

Alone in Edgewater County, further rejected by estranged wife Creedence and with no real passion, our hero Roy Earl Pettus wallows and dreams of fading away into the mountains like he’d visited at Heather Ponderview’s with friend and spiritual advisor Button Sykes. Roy possesses everything one could ostensibly need, his decision regarding The Dixiana proved to be a gesture of love and healing, and life can be made into whatever he wishes. News that another important figure in his life has fallen ill dredges up all of the desire to control he’s tried so hard to release, however.

The planning of the Rabbit Pettus Memorial Folk Music Festival, Roy’s last act of service to his past in Edgewater County, proceeds apace, but authorities requiring an inordinate amount of security measures, including the denial of a permit to an Middle Eastern vendor with family members on a watch list, irritate our man. Roy says, but hey, this is my show! T-S, he’s told by the DHS and the cops. None of this sits well with the bossman.

Meanwhile, Christy Beaudock, finding a book on magic in a garbage can and pursuing the wicked left-hand path, hatches a plan of revenge against Roy E. Pettus: stealing the bossman’s Piper Meridian and flying away from Edgewater County forever. Suddenly Newbie Harrell seems less ally than impediment to what Christy has in mind. Or could Newbie prove useful in another capacity: that of a literal blood sacrifice offered in order to make Christy powerful indeed?

Creedence Pettus, struggling to decide between being single or resuming her marriage, is smitten with Phil Webhannet, but the cop remains mysteriously steadfast in his refusal to engage her. Roy confronts his wife about the real reason for her reticence to rejoin with him. Just who might be involved besides the two of them. The answer resolves much, setting them on a course of closure.

Button Sykes faces her greatest spiritual challenge yet, a difficult transit that can only be completed with the help of friends Roy and Heather, each assisting in their own ways. Button, courageous, thought herself into this predicament, though, so maybe she’ll imagine a way out, too.

Part Two: Honkytonk Man

Here we follow Rabbit Pettus, Mama Runelle, Button’s grandfather Burnham Sykes and a dozen other major characters through the years 1933 to 2003 in Edgewater County and elsewhere in the world: War experiences from Panama to the Rhineland to Port Moresby to Da Nang, the formation of a family, farming the frozen North Dakota prairie, the origins of The Dixiana and the power structures in Edgewater County, the deaths of Roy’s parents, all the famous visitors to the honkytonk, back room deals, heartbreaks, betrayals, losses and grief the likes of which no one will ever fully know without living through it themselves all comprise the crucial flashback segment of the DIXIANA Saga.

After this section, we’re left with few questions left to answer… but they’re big ones.

Part Three: Return Echo

Roy continues to plan the festival, the illness of a pet proves crucial in the disposition of Roy and Creedence’s broken marriage, and all other characters find their threads coalescing for the last time there on the town green in the heart of Edgewater County, SC during the folk music festival under a perfect blue Carolina sky.

Forces of darkness gather nearby, however, figures planning mayhem independently of Christy’s intention to disrupt the festival. Certain actors in the climax appear supernatural, but in this marvelous, mysterious, unfolding dream of life, who can truly say what is and isn’t real?

In any case, a number of familiar players, in particular Button, contribute to either the success or failure of Roy and Christy’s particular missions, both of which involve leaving Edgewater County for keeps, a fond desire for each of these characters.

Epilogue: Golden Age

A foreseen future for a number of folks, including Button’s friend Heather Ponderview and other figures from Roy’s past, forging a new existence together in the future of their lives: a mountain retreat, an enclave, a tribe, a family; an epilogue featuring an epigraph reading as follows:

The perfect government of the earth must be patterned eventually after that divine government by which the universe is ordered. In that day when perfect order is reestablished, with peace universal and good triumphant, men will no longer seek for happiness, for they shall find it welling up within themselves. Dead hopes, dead aspirations, dead virtues shall rise from their graves, and the Spirit of Beauty and Goodness repeatedly slain by ignorant men shall again be the Master of Work. Then shall sages sit upon the seats of the mighty and the gods walk with men. —Manly P. Hall

Next: The Characters of DIXIANA

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About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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