The Serpent's Sage
During the unusually hot summer of l964, in the small, North Carolina coastal town of Sally's Beach, a spoiled young boy finds himself fascinated by the bizarre spiritual beliefs of an elderly black woman performing as a snake-eater at the county fair, and risks his life and his own beliefs in trying to rescue her from the degrading life as a side-show freak. More
When spoiled thirteen year old Barry Taylor wanders into a side-show performance at Sally's Beach county fair during the hot weeks of late summer, l964, he can't take his eyes off of the gruesome spectacle of an elderly black woman, Otilla Mae Carver, eating lives snakes to horrify spectators. Barry soon becomes obsessed with "Doc" Burgess's freakish meal ticket and sneaks away from home to meet her. Mesmerized by "Otie's" bizarre spiritual philosophy, Barry decides to abandon his bookish isolation, his skeptical fantasies, his ill-tempered parents, and the superficial beliefs of the small North Carolina coastal town he grew up in. Barry concocts a fateful plan to rescue his new found mentor from the life of a carnival freak and become her devoted disciple. For the residents of Sally's Beach's, Barry's and Otie's sudden, mysterious disappearance becomes the town's greatest mystery. Coping with that mystery exposes the troubled pasts of Barry's parents, the Sheriff's, and the town itself. Sliding from present to past, reality to dream, The Serpent's Sage is, is a spiritual love story of two outcasts whose brief and unlikely bond takes shape at a time when the traditional landscape of the South—and all America—seems destined for dramatic changes.
A native of North Carolina, author Phillip Arrington has been teaching literature and composition for almost thirty years. His other book, Rhetoric's Agons (2008), is available as print-on-demand at Amazon.com.