When I first moved back to Mississippi, I had no idea what a Sweet Potato Queen was. Then I attended the Mal's St. Paddy's Parade and received a front-row education to the world of the "queens."
If you're like me, however, I still feel I don't know enough. Why do these ladies wear big wigs, enormous fake ta-tas and tiaras?
The best place to start is from the mouth of the original queen bee, Jill Conner Browne. Browne has written eight books to inaugurate those bold enough into the world of the Sweet Potato Queens.
"The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love" (Three Rivers Press, 1999, $14)
"You don't have to be from the South ... you just have to like laughing out loud, a lot." —Chicago Tribune
"God Save the Sweet Potato Queens" (Three Rivers Press, 2001, $13.95)
"This new book is every bit as funny as the first—and contains loads of beauty shop talk about sex and the foibles of male behavior—but it has surprises as well, such as poignant passages about the deaths of two close friends." —James L. Dickerson
"The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner" (Three Rivers Press, 2003, $15)
"Menopause is yet another reason to start a trust fund for yourself while you're young. Being crazy costs a lot." —from the book
"The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men: Every Man I Love Is Either Married, Gay, or Dead" (Three Rivers Press, 2004, $15)
"Browne's fourth venture into chronicling Southern belles gone bad shows no signs of exhausting the topic; her reservoir of hilarious advice and empowering stories are still fresh and funny. There are five categories of men 'you must have in your life—one to talk to, one to dance with, one who can pay for things, one to have great sex with and one who can fix things.' Offering tips on where to find eligible men, Browne suggests Home Depot, bookstores (where she met her new husband, The Cutest Boy in the World), post-funeral feeds and 'class reunions after number 25 or so are hot beds of, well, hot beds.' As for dating older men, Browne coos, 'I've long been a proponent of this concept on account of the opportunity it affords us to be young and cute forever.'" —Publishers Weekly
"The Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide" (Three Rivers Press, 2007, $13.95)
"If you're gonna go to college for Pre-Wed, I insist that you also take a full course in Pre-Death/Pre-Divorce and get yourself an education that will prepare you for the 'unthinkable situation'—taking care of yourself and possibly a bunch of children by yourself for a large part of your life. You'll sleep a whole lot better, I promise. Parents will sleep better, too, if they help their children learn this.
—from the book
"The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel: Stuff We Didn't Actually Do, But Could Have, And May Yet" (Simon & Schuster, 2008, $12.95)
"You've read the Sweet Potato Queen books, you've joined one of the 4,100 Sweet Potato Queens' chapters, you're anticipating the Sweet Potato Queens' musical. Now read the first, big autobiographical novel." —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit" (Simon & Schuster, 2008, $12.95)
"It matters not whether you are 45 and have been hoping with nothing short of desperation to conceive, or 16 and utilizing nothing but desperate hope as your means of contraception—that moment when you know with absolute certainty that you are, in fact, a Pregnant Woman—I'd have to say it's the single Most Stunning Moment of Your Life." —from the book
"American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Preserving Your Assets" (Simon & Schuster, reprint edition, 2009, $13.99)
"I hope to help some folks misspend their middle ages as blissfully as we misspent our youth, and I hope to help keep some of the youngsters from spending their middle ages in bad relationships, jobs they hate, and/or prison (which is actually almost redundant)."
—from the book