If you're a son or a father in Mississippi, or know a son or a father in Mississippi, or otherwise enjoy reading hilarious stories about a son and a father in Mississippi, you should buy the new memoir "The World's Largest Man" by Harrison Scott Key who grew up in Rankin County.

Spin magazine founder Bob Guccione, Jr. called Key "a pureblood prince of both the Southern literary and Southern humorist houses, each fathered by Mark Twain" and Curtis Wilkie said he "belongs to a grand school of Southern humorists who manage to mix regional pride with personal humility. He reminds me of Roy Blount Jr." Garden and Gun Magazine said of the book, "The reader registers chest pain, and presumes all the laughing has caused a rib to fracture. But no. One's heart has cracked. Yet the laughter keeps coming, humor salving the hurt for reader and writer alike."

All that, like the book itself, is true.

I met Harrison Key (then Scott Key) at Belhaven University (then Belhaven College). I was climbing down from his shoulders and introduced myself (we were at a freshman fun games event and had neglected to exchange names before beginning a race where his job was to run and my job was to sit on him). We were the only two students identified as "Church of Christ" in the 1993 freshman class (we're now both Presbyterians, but that is not unusual at Belhaven) and lived a few doors down from each other in Wells Hall.

We were both elected to a new student residence disciplinary team, one per hall in the residence dorms, which was to oversee internal disciplinary matters in a community-based, family-style manner. The first meeting of our hall's five-man CAC (community accountability committee) involved a matter of disturbance created by Harrison and me, with a third member of the committee as a witness who did not report the disturbance. We argued with the three of us excluded there was no quorum to take any action. The CAC program ended that year.

For the following four years we were roommates both in school and out of school and nearly killed each other several times (accidentally). He once threw a spear which turned in the air and barely "missed" my head (some of my hair remained in the wood of the spear so perhaps a better description is it barely "hit" my head). I once threw him off the back of a car traveling at high speed down a 40 foot slope where his motion was finally halted by a maintenance shed. He shot me in the face with an exploding cap from a tournament regulation pellet gun.

Harrison left Mississippi for additional education and adventures, but his words began returning regularly in the form of essays in the Oxford American, dense with humor as lines of laughter followed in rapid succession and weaved back to enhance earlier snort-educing scenes. On the occasion of each publication it was like I received a surprise gift from an old friend that I would share with new friends assuring them laughter would occur. It did.

Once while visiting in Jackson and having a beer at Keifers he mentioned he would be releasing a book. My anticipation increased for months, years, until a few weeks ago when the book was released. I had faith it would not disappoint and encouraged everyone to pre-order it. There was always a lingering doubt that perhaps it would not be funny to those who didn't know him. That is not the case.

I received the book and began reading it in the afternoon and stayed up till I finished it that night. When I got it, I could not put it down. When I finished it, I would not touch it again for a week. It remained unmoved in the middle of my dinner table. I worked around it; ate around it; but would not touch it. I think it scared me.

There was not a moment in the book without comedy. But there was tragedy as well. I'm unsure whether the tears the book caused are as universal as the laughs, but I believe they are.

The son of the world's largest man has written the year's funniest book and you should buy it and read it and laugh and cry and then give it as a gift. You won't regret it.

Harrison returns to Mississippi for book signings this month at TurnRow in Greenwood (June 16), Square Books in Oxford (June 17), Lemuria in Jackson (June 18) and Turning Pages in Natchez (June 19). He'll be signing books and doing a reading at Belhaven University as part of the Homecoming festivities on October 16 where there is the distinct possibility one of us might nearly kill the other one, again.


Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.