Jeffrey Dale Lofton
Red Clay Suzie
A heartbreaking, beautifully written debut novel from Jeffrey Dale Lofton, Red Clay Suzie captures life and love living on the fringes in America’s Deep South. Inspired by events in his own life, the author takes us inside the heart and mind of Philbet, a gay, physically misshapen boy struggling to find his way in a deeply conservative, rural family and community.
Fueled by tomato sandwiches and green milkshakes, and obsessed with cars, Philbet is happiest when helping Grandaddy dig potatoes from the vegetable garden that connects their houses. But Philbet’s world is shattered and his resilience shaken by events that crush his innocence and fragile sense of security; expose his physical deformity skillfully hidden behind shirts Mama makes for him at home on her Singer; and convince him that he’s not fit to be loved by Knox, the older boy he idolizes to distraction.
Over time, Philbet finds refuge in unexpected places and unexpected ways, leading to a resolution from beyond the grave.
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Publication Date: Moved to 2023
"You can't help but root for Philbet, the unforgettable hero of Jeffrey Dale Lofton's arresting debut Red Clay Suzie. I was moved by the insights and settings of this book and by the vivid depiction of a unique childhood that feels universal in its longing."
—Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
“Red Clay Suzie is a descriptive triumph, an extraordinary, beautiful book . . . with dialogue so sensitive you are vividly transported back to Philbet’s childhood. It will remain with you long after you have finished. So, tuck yourself up with a yellow tomato sandwich—don’t forget the mayo—and enjoy Red Clay Suzie.”
—Lindy Woodhead, author of War Paint and Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge
“If you’ve never set foot on the red-clay soil of Georgia, the heartfelt prose of Jeffrey Dale Lofton’s Red Clay Suzie will take you there. This book is an intimate exploration of people, place, and identity, one that through its honesty—as well as colorful language and vivid description—opens up the idea of the South into one that is more inclusive and real.”
—W. Ralph Eubanks, author of A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape
“A great new southern storyteller has emerged, and in Red Clay Suzie, Jeffrey Dale Lofton with his fastidious and keen eye has created a coming-of-age story unlike any other. It is a world revealed by the gay, misshapen narrator, Philbet, who with a pitch-perfect voice takes us on a weird, comical, and mysterious adventure story of the rarely explored world of a
gifted and repressed gay childhood. It feels like a new and indigenous style.
Red Clay Suzie is a tour de force by a rare, imaginative, and important writer—a fascinating gay story of the South, and yet through the magic of this writer’s skill, it transcends its own themes. This is a rare occurrence and a true triumph—a sunken treasure chest of fiction, so close to the heart you can sometimes feel it beating.”
—James Hart, author of Lucky Jim
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Jeffrey Dale Lofton hails from Warm Springs, Georgia, best known for Roosevelt’s Little White House. He calls the nation’s capital home now, where early on he spent many a night acting on the stages of DC’s theaters and performing arts centers. He even scored a few television appearances, including a Super Bowl halftime commercial, which his accountant wisecracked “Is the finest work of your career.”
When he stepped away from acting for other, more traditional employment (much to his parents’ delight and relief), he also focused on pursuing post-graduate work, ultimately being awarded Master’s degrees in both Public Administration and Library and Information Science.
Today, he is a senior advisor at the Library of Congress, surrounded by books and people who love books—in short, paradise.
A portion of the sales of Red Clay Suzie go to support the important work of The Trevor Project and the Born This Way Foundation.
Tags: Adult, Disability/ND, LGBTQIA+, Literary, Coming-of-Age, Fictionalized Memoir, Southern Literature, New Adult