The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato is based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave from The Republic. In this novel, the Cave is a dank basement bar in the small Southern town of Waterville, overflowing with cheap beer, good blues, and local oddballs. There’s Vera, the tough but tender owner; Pancho, the philosophical piano tuner; Billy Joe, the former rising star back home after a stop in Memphis; and Commie Tom, the exceedingly generous proprietor of the Hammer and Sickle Bookstore. The newest bartender is whip-smart tomboy Josie, who hopped a bus from the Appalachian backwoods on a quest to discover who she is and where she belongs. What she finds is the Cave and the love of a charming regular named Danny. Armed with lessons from mythology and Plato’s philosophy, Josie navigates the ups and downs of first love and begins to understand that something much greater is waiting for her just outside the Cave. With Josie as our brave guide, we are submerged in a rarely explored subculture. Her journey into the Cave and back out is filled with trials and tragedy, but Josie is helped along by her newfound community of large-hearted hard drinkers. The Drunken Spelunker’s Guide to Plato is a love letter to the families we build for ourselves and the unexpected ways life can answer the question, "What if?"
KATHY GIUFFRE is a professor and sociologist specializing in social networks, cultural sociology, and Polynesian society. Giuffre was invited to present a TED Talk about her research in 2013. She is the author of a memoir, An Afternoon in Summer: My Year in the South Seas (Awa Press, 2010), as well as two academic books covering her areas of expertise. Giuffre received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. from Harvard University. Currently, she and her family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she is the A.E. and Ethel Irene Carlton Professor of Social Sciences at Colorado College.
". . . [A] novel of love and life that is humorous and delicate. The regulars at the Cavern Tavern in the small southern town of Waterville, located somewhere in the Appalachian Piedmont, partake of all the quirkiness expected of literary denizens of dive bars in the South . . . Passages drawn from Plato's allegory of the cave and Edith Hamilton's Mythology weave through the story, elevating Josie's struggles to the level of the universal. This is warm, sweet, and inviting, like pie fresh from the oven." — Publishers Weekly
"A young woman living in a college town in the early 1990s learns about life, love, and ancient Greek philosophy in this episodic, often comic tale. With its evenhanded narrator, this low-key novel succinctly evokes the supportive dynamics of the community at its heart." — Kirkus Reviews
- Winner: SIBA Summer 2015 Okra Pick Best Book
- Winner: Seven Sisters Book Award, Fiction
- Long List: Pat Conroy Award for Southern Fiction, Prince of Tides Award in Literary Fiction
- Long List: Crook's Corner Book Prize
- Finalist: Foreword INDIEFAB Book of the Year, Literary Fiction