The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel
By Jill Conner Browne Questions for Discussion:
1. The novel begins with the question "Is a queen created or is she born that way?" (1) Do you agree that we must learn to "make our very own queen dust" (6), or do you think some people naturally sparkle more than others? Jill claims you can see "the gleam of a queen" (1) in baby pictures of Queen Elizabeth, Cher, and RuPaul. What other celebrities--male, female, or somewhere in between!--might have been born with a queenly glimmer in their eyes?
2. Jill narrates the novel in the first-person voice. How does this affect the way the story unfolds? Discuss what the novel might be like from the point of view of another one of the Queens. Could Mary Bennett, Gerald, Patsy, or Tammy capture the uproarious humor of Jill's narration?
3. Jill introduces the city of Jackson, Mississippi, by emphasizing the divide of Yazoo Road: "If you lived north of Yazoo, like Marcy Stevens did, you peed champagne and blew your nose in silk. If you lived south -- as I did -- you peed Dixie Beer and blew your nose in burlap" (9). What is the "personality" of Jackson? How is the town like another character in the book, or even another Queen? If this novel were set in your hometown, how would it be different?
4. Jill describes her thirteen-year-old self like this: "I was so skinnyŠthat when I ran I looked like an eggbeater coming down the road