Duck Dynasty is a reality television show featuring bearded millionaires who crack perverted, sexist, hetero-normative jokes while reinforcing stereotypes about the South. A nation watches from suburban living rooms, and they “ohhhh” and “awwww” at the verbal fireworks spewing from the mouths of each
character real life person and LOL at each of the jokes. Christian families appreciate that every show ends in a prayer.
When I sit down on my very own afghan draped couch, wearing a “Bubba Gump Fishing Inc.” t-shirt with my coonhound resting at my feet, I rarely turn on the television and watch Duck Dynasty. It’s not that I don’t enjoy pop-culture. Nor am I a contrarian (when I dance to Ke$ha- it feels like being hugged by America). But what I really like to do on Wednesdays at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time is pop open a bottle of Wild Irish Rose brand red wine, pull out my laptop, and read some Duck Dynasty Fan-fiction.
Here are some of my very favorite Duck Dynasty inspired pieces. These are the stories that I find myself returning to again and again. Like drops of dew, they glisten at the window of my reading glasses, casting rainbows into the living room of my brain.
1) A clip from the novel Cute Boys and Ducks by Nailer55
Nailer55/Nailer100 (she accidentally forgot the password to her first account) blesses the internet Duck Dynasty fanatic with the first two chapters from her forthcoming full-length novel.
Nailer55’s prose, like Faulkner’s, is first-person stream-of-conscious and switches from character to character. The author gives the reader brilliant stage directions before switching from one easily identifiable voice to another (e.g., “Cole’s POV to Caitlin’s POV”). Often, events are retold from different perspectives. This effect allows us to know who likes whom and who thinks who is cute while also cultivating the reader’s opinions about who would work best as a couple.
The prose is matched by the plot in terms of inspiration and originality. Arriving in the bucolic suburbs of West Monroe, Arkansas, recent high-school graduates and BFFs Caitlin and Katie meet the gorgeous John Luke and his significantly less-hot brother, Cole, while moving into their newly purchased house. Nailer55 leaves the reader in suspense about how said house was paid for and why two girls from Kansas decided to move to Arkansas without jobs, family, friends, any notable sign of income/any reason to be there whatsoever. My mind can’t help but revel in the possibilities: Did they rob a bank? Commit a murder? Is Katie running away from an abusive ex-boyfriend? Nailer55 will surely answer my questions with the subsequent chapters she has been working on for the seven months since posting the first two.
Like Gertrude Stein, Nailer55 is not afraid to break the rules. Plot points come and go, there’s little attention paid to time, and the sequence of event does not matter. Most significantly, though the real Duck Dynasty is set in Louisiana, Nailer55 bravely decides to relocate the whole crew to Arkansas. A boy smiles, a girl worries, there’s a high-stakes doughnut eating contest; the writing is like crisp hot cool jazz orchestrated by my master trumpeter . . . whose instrument is a pen instead of a horn.
2) The Robertson Boys by Gossip Girl xoxo
This thirteen chapter epic narrative couldn’t be more different from the Faulknerian prose of Nailer55. The Robertson Boys offers rough hewn, Hemingwayesque dialogue to tell the story of bad girl Brooke Edwards, who moves from California to live with her god-parents (members of the Duck Dynasty clan) after her parents are tragically killed in an automobile accident.
But the dialogue isn’t the only thing reminiscent of Hemingway. At one point, The Robertson Boys breaks into a hunting narrative, and the sole protagonist, Brooke Edwards, is also a perfect female mirror of Big Poppa. She is fond taking long inebriated walks at night. She is the deadliest hunter, completely untamable, filled with sorrow, and she’s a fantastic heartbreaker. At times The Robertson Boys feel like A Movable Feast, and Brooke is every bit as tormented and unloved as Robert Jordan from For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Out of all the fan fiction written about Duck Dynasty, this is the story I often suggest to the beginning reader. Gossip Girl xoxo includes little pictures of the characters next to their lines. This is critical for readers who haven’t seen the show, especially so one can see John Luke’s Brady Bunch inspired hair and understand why so many young females end up making out with him.
Gossip Girl xoxo’s newest literary gem, Summer Camp with Justin Beiber, however, bears little resemblance to the terse prose of The Robertson Boys. For long stretches, the gossip driven narrative is akin to Charlotte Bronte’s gothic Wuthering Heights. Gossip Girl xoxo is growing as a writer, and while living in Canada has undoubtedly stifled her creativity, she does not shy away from experimentation. Her dialogue is quite decent, and the discipline it must take to write a thirteen chapter narrative at such a young age is staggering. When she finally masters the difference between are and our, I may know one critic who will start writing fan-fiction about her!
3) Learning to Fly by Cally Mikaelson
Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own was published on October 24, 1929, and as we approach the 84th anniversary of this event, it’s hard not to become reflective. For those unfamiliar with the text, Woolf argues that if only young women were allowed their own space, time, and money, they’d be capable of producing the sort of fiction that would so totally be better than the literary canon’s DWM (Dead White Men).
Right now we have a large population of people who actually have the space, time, and money that Woolf pleaded for. Most of those people are white, privileged, and live north of the Mason Dixon line, but this shouldn’t diminish the reality that the society Woolf dreamed of now exists.
Cally Mikaelson is the answer to the question A Room of One’s Own posed so many years ago. Here we have a young writer who has created a masterpiece that doesn’t just rival any work of Literature in terms of scope and precision of execution, it surpasses. I could read this text every day for the rest of my life and be completely happy and constantly humbled at the quality of the work.
There’s an ironic noir mystery element to Learning to Fly, and it’s genuinely fun to follow Isabella (the main female protagonist, little sister of Niall from the band One Direction, and part-time Hollister model) while she steals kisses from the Robertson boys (and girls!) and struggles to figure out who is anonymously cyber-bullying her.
Twice as long as Gossip Girl xoxo’s epic, Learning to Fly gives us everything. There are outfits picked out on fashion websites hyperlinked in the text (we know just what Isabella looks like when she sees John Luke for the first time in eight years) and transcribed text-messages fill many pages.
Like Nabokov, Mikaelson is master of speaking double, and it quickly becomes obvious that she has the ability to play a literary allusion chess game with the reader. Often she mimics an ancient text and puts a contemporary spin on it. Evoking Bede’s “Caedmon’s Hymn,” Isabella is left unable to speak in the prescience of an angel (aka John Luke). And like Mohammed in the cave of Hira, she is unable to write when the angel (aka John Luke) commands her to. What is the meaning of such games? Mikaelson leaves this for the reader to decide.
Isabella’s relationship with the band One Direction feels a little undercooked, but as a whole, Learning to Fly comes like a breath of fresh air to a coal miner. It’s a fun romp, but like a truffle it deserves to be savored. Truly a must read.
It should be noted that the family on Duck Dynasty seem like good people; they teach their kids how to clean fish, and spray them off with a gardening hose when they get filthy. The fact that people watch this for entertainment reflects much worse on society than it does the Robertsons. Furthermore, there are several hundred tween and teenage girls who fantasize living with them, and it’s not just to smooch John Luke. Most of the fan fiction stories focus on having authority figures who make them sit down to eat with the whole family, make them hunt, cook, clean, joke, dress appropriately, and to force them to stop being a vegetarian. After writing that last sentence… I’m just happy that I live in the south.
Eagle Brosi is the youngest of seven hippie children but now he lives in Harlan County, Kentucky where he pretends to be a redneck.