The Real Paul Jones

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Clarifying Thoughts: Ain’t Gonna Bump No More

Having just finished blogging about clarity and handwriting/typing, I picked up the resurrected Oxford American‘s latest issue. Michael Parker has a very very funny story in the form of a student paper called “Hidden Meanings: Treatment of Time, Supreme Irony, and Life Experiences in the Song ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.’” The story isn’t online, but it has already been taken on a kind of “Supreme Irony.”

Parker read the story at a Literary Symposium at East Carolina University this fall. The reporter for the East Carolinian wrote:

[Parker] presented a detailed analysis of a song entitled “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman.”

Well, not exactly. Parker is a very good writer writing as a very bad but honest writer who has a lot to say to and about her teacher and much more in the course of the paper. I’m not giving away any secrets when I say that the teacher has been right in saying that the writer “sprawls lacks cohesion or is not well organized.” But that is the point, of course. The story is not just a parody of student writing but a story that sprawls it’s way into a kind of tenderness and honesty and self-revelation that keeps you in sympathy with the writer even as you are laughing out loud.

Any story that begins:

In the song “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More No Big Fat Woman” by Joe Tex, the speaker of narrator fo this song, a man previously injured before the song’s opening chords by a large, aggressive-type woman in a disco-type bar, refuses to bump with the “big fat woman” of the title. In doing so he is merely exercising his right to an injury-free existence thus insuring him the ability to work and provide for him and his family if he has one. I don’t know it doesn’t ever say. In this paper, I will prove there is a hidden meaning that everybody doesn’t get in this popular Song, Saying or Incident from Public Life.

has an awful lot going for it.

UPDATE: Here are the all important lyrics to the Joe Tex song, “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)”


  1. this piece is fantastic. I’m copying it for class tonight. what else has michael parker done? I can’t find him anywhere online.

  2. Michael Parker’s published several novels including If You Want Me To Stay, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, and Hello Down There, a NY Times Notable Book and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. He’s also published a collection of stories called The Geographical Cure.

  3. i heard this on NPR this week and was incesantly laughing out loud. 12/30/05

  4. This article is no longer available on the web. It looks a gem! Anyone know where I can read it?

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