Book Talk: Dolly Parton and James Patterson, 'Run, Rose, Run'

Hot off the press. Released less than two weeks ago. And, I was predisposed NOT to like it. Dolly Parton and James Patterson’s “Run, Rose, Run” is an exception to a rule that I adopted several years ago. The rule is never to buy a book that is supposedly coauthored by James Patterson and some other writer. As I’ve written before, I think this is a dishonest practice because more than a hundred of these books have been published each decade since 2010, 280 books in 22 years. And it is inconceivable that Patterson could have coauthored that many books.


I viewed this one differently because Dolly Parton had agreed to put her name on the cover, and I believe that she is an honest person. After I preordered it, I saw an interview with Parton and Patterson in which Dolly readily admitted that she had nothing to do with writing the book. She said that she had simply told Patterson some stories, filled him in about the C/W scene, and had written a number of songs to accompany the book. In fact, the lyrics to her songs are included in an appendix, but the songs are attributed to the characters in the book. And, like Betty White, is there anybody who doesn’t love Dolly Parton?


“Run, Rose, Run” (2022, 409 pages, not counting the song lyrics) is the story of AnnieLee, an enigmatic young woman who appears on a rainy night, attempting to thumb a ride on a highway. She’s on her way to Nashville, to make her mark as a songwriter and C/W singer. However, she has nothing but a backpack, containing a pillow, some energy bars, and light sleeping bag. She is alone, broke, and full of guts and ambition.


When she gets a chance to go on stage at Cats Paw Saloon, she has to borrow the “house guitar;” then she captures the hearts of the audience, in particular Ethan Blake another performer and friend of Ruthanna, the retired “Queen of Country.” For reasons that are not immediately apparent, Ruthanna takes AnnieLee under her wing.


Although AnnieLee is awed by Ruthanna, she is determined to speak her mind and stand by her principles when she disagrees with Ruthanna’s advice to “get out of Nashville,” which is Ruthanna’s plea to save AnnieLee from the dishonest agents, phony promoters, and myriad disappointments that lurk on the rungs of the ladder to success.


If I didn’t know better, I’d be inclined to believe that Ms. Parton wrote much of the dialogue because AnnieLee often sounds exactly like Dolly. But I once wrote two of the late Sharon Stockdale’s columns when she was injured many years ago, and most of her friends didn’t realize the work had been ghostwritten, although I clearly stated that both times. So, it’s not as difficult for a man to write as a Southern woman as one might think.


Initially, I was a bit disappointed with the narrative because it seemed like a rerun of “Coalminer’s Daughter,” but without the family connections or supportive husband. However, the writing is so good that, before I realized it, I glanced at the top of the page to find that I was about to begin Chapter 33 on page 141.


I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but I will say that if you love Dolly Parton, a woman who pulled herself up from a family background that was, in her words, “dirt poor” to become one of the most famous personalities in show business, composer of 3,000 songs, and performer on more than 100 million records sold throughout the world, you’ll want to read “Run, Rose, Run.”


So, who is Rose? Good question. This is unlike any other Patterson book!


Enjoy.


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Jim Glynn may be contacted at j_glynn@att.net.

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