William Price Fox William A.C. Francis - Essay

William A.C. Francis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

William Price Fox is a natural storyteller with a good ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for significant details. His sense of timing is flawless. Read "Southern Fried Plus Six" and "Moonshine Light, Moonshine Bright" and then try to think of an American humorist at work today who can match his talent. His world is Columbia, South Carolina. His characters are of the lower class: moonshiners, laborers, razor fighters, short order cooks, gamblers, poolroom loafers, hustlers, and the like. They are never portrayed bitterly. Rather, they are treated warmly and fondly.

"Ruby Red" is the story of a girl's search for success as a country and western singer in Columbia and, later in Nashville…. Ruby is sexy, unscrupulous, and not very talented. Along the way to Music City, U.S.A., Ruby hustles, compromises, and maneuvers to get in the spotlight….

At the heart of "Ruby Red" is the American scramble for fame and fortune. Fox's talent for depicting the values of Ruby and what she stands for is remarkable. He [also] takes us on a fascinating tour of Nashville….

This is the first significant novel to explore the world of the country and western singer which we have come to know through Elvis Presley in the 50's and more recently through Johnny Cash. The inner workings of this world are handled deftly by a man who knows it at first hand and writes about it with vigor. The novel provides us a special glimpse into a world we all know, or have heard about, but have not yet quite found a way to smile at.

William A.C. Francis, "Fiction: 'Ruby Red'," in Best Sellers (copyright 1971, by the University of Scranton), Vol. 31, No. 7, July 1, 1971, p. 171.