I’ve been waiting for a chance to write a book review on K. Cooper Ray’s latest book, and first novel, Last Night At Moomba and today is the day! I totally need to get out there and plant the latest items in my garden, but it can wait. Just like the dishes in the sink. This is important. And also because I need y’all to read it so I have someone to talk about the ending with.
In case you don’t recognize the author’s name, he was on Southern Charm as a friend and loyal ally of our favorite cast member, Kathryn Calhoun Dennis. That loyalty led to his refusal to follow the dictate of the show’s old yankee crone to ostracize and bully Kathyrn and he was ultimately shut out of filming and eventually the show. Despite being asked back for season four, he opted to explore other filming options and has been in NYC pitching several shows. Clearly, he is not one to reward the show with his authentic southern presence after such mistreatment. Let the yankee producers jam their “southern shows” with yankees and wannabees rather than well-bred southern gentlemen who do not abandon young mothers in order to gain air time on a reality show.
I’m still bitter. K. Cooper Ray is not. He’s busy with more ventures than I can list here. His online site, Social Primer, showcases his firm grasp on the consummate style of the southern gentleman. He markets part of his menswear design label there as well as his event planning services. These two ventures go hand in hand as he has the perfect accessories for the ballroom and the steeple chase. He is also at all of the important functions of the real Charleston society. Yesterday, he attended the Charleston Steeple Chase donning the signature straw bowler hat that is required for the properly dressed southern gentleman at the races. A fan and customer of Social Primer was bemoaning on Instagram that they were sold out of his size before he could get one. He also designs couture menswear which he personally fits and sews to the specifications of each client. He also has a pocket guide for men that he wrote on proper etiquette and dress called Bill of Rites for the American Man that would make a lovely stocking stuffer for your southern gentleman who needs a gentle reminder. He’s also busy in negotiations for his own television endeavors. Word is, we won’t be missing K. Cooper Ray for much longer. He’s already filmed some things for some high brow show I somehow missed. 🙂
But enough about my mad crush on the man. This is about the book. I know Coop is probably wondering what the hell is taking me so long, and the answer is simple. I just didn’t want it to end so I started reading slower and slower like when I used to try to make a Harry Potter book last until the next one.
Last Night at Moomba chronicles the life of Judge Mender, a southern writer from Alabama who has landed a job as a Jet Set the society magazine in this fictional store set in Manhattan in the 1990s. Judge quickly rises to iconic status as the societal commentator who can make or break the a prominent lady’s social status. He is invited to all the events by the party throwers who are hoping for a positive piece on their event in his column. A positive mention by Judge could propel an aspiring nobody into the inner circle over night.
The book opens with Judge waking up after one such event to the aftermath of a menage a trois that apparently occurred the night before. The other male participant, he noticed was still in his apartment hoping for as second, or third, or fourth (who really knows) go round with him. But Judge has to dash off to work hungover and hurting to get his review of the previous evening’s revelry to his editor. Well, the public parts at least. The err… afterparty will not be mentioned. At least, not by Judge.
Judge is basically a bon vivant with a charming way about him (sound familiar?) but he quickly becomes sucked into to life in the big city and all of the backstabbing that happens in the highest of social circles.
Here is a short excerpt from Last Night At Moomba, there are also ample excerpts on his blog. He will even tell you a bit about the real bar that Moomba is based in a short in a video. As I suspected much of this fictional story is based on some actual events in Cooper’s life when he went to live in the big city.
He scanned the room to the right, toward the bar and landed on Victoria Newton. She had entered the door wearing a big pink costume of a dress, hair high and jewels glistening in the low amber lighting. She stood under one of the halogen down lights and her enormous diamond necklace and earrings sent out distress signals. Judge stood up and waved to catch her eye across the loud and darkened room. She looked perplexed. Victoria was only a few years older than Lucy and the other girls of her set, but her carriage and demeanor placed her in another time and place. Victoria looked as if she had stepped out of a Sargent portrait into the raucous room. Discomfort flickered across her tight-lipped smile and stiffened in her statue-still stance.
Moomba was not Victoria’s kind of place. She didn’t particularly like the uptown downtown fusion. She read the same Page Six article Scarlet had and instructed her driver to head down to the trendy club after the Met opening. Sweetie James was standing behind her with Andrew Christopher.
Victoria smiled at Judge and stretched her neck to inventory his table. Lucy Shining, good. Sam Denson, good. Chase Peters, yuck. Judge read the look on her face and knew she would not cross the room. He made his way around the table, through the fallen branches of legs and shoes out to the aisle of dancing fools toward Victoria.
The book is a bit lengthy, but the type is large enough for old eyes to read without getting tired, and the entire book is a page turner. I was left wanting more pages. When all the women in the main social circle were introduced, I fell in love with Scarlett, the southern girl who is very “country come to city” as we say and began rooting for her. I’ll only say that she goes on a wild journey trying to elbow her way to the top with the sweetest southern smile. Her ride was not as wild as Judge’s journey, but you will likely find yourself rooting for both characters.
As the story moves on, I was impressed by KCR’s knowledge of… well everything. The details of Manhattan, the details of event planning, the details of the designer labels, the expected etiquette, visual arts, you name it, KCR is an expert and I hung on every word.
It’s a book filled with booze, sex, near death experiences, drugs, and heartbreak. Basically, the 90s. There is also a spattering of song lyrics throughout the prose that will bring your right back to the decade. So it is without reservation I highly recommend it. Each of the book titles are linked to take you directly to Amazon. And by the way, this is not a paid advertisement. I don’t do paid advertisements. I do genuinely love the book, K. Cooper Ray, and all of his endeavors and am happy to encourage his further success.
Oh and there was an incident with a troll on Twitter (go figure) and K. Cooper Ray is having to rebuild his twitter following. I’d appreciate it if you could help him with that by following him on Twitter here. He also has beautiful photos from Charleston on his Instagram. Check out his youtubes here.
And if you are still in a helpful mood, I am now ready for a new book. I’d love to hear what you are reading and what your suggestions are. And after you read Last Night At Moomba, I’d love to chat with you about it. I still need to read that ending again…