Addie Pray

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Addie Pray (1971) is a novel by Joe David Brown. It was the inspiration for the movie Paper Moon (1973) directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Shortly after the movie was released, the novel was re-titled Paper Moon in honor of the movie.

The picaresque novel is narrated by Addie, an orphaned girl, who travels with confidence man Moses "Long Boy" Pray in the early 1930s, during the Great Depression. Addie states at the beginning of the novel that Long Boy may or may not be her father; she says that her late mother was the "wildest" girl in her town, and that Long Boy is one of her three possible fathers. Their characters are established in Alabama, and the story line then carries them to other Southern states around Memphis. The movie Paper Moon retains these characters and much of their action, but moves the story to Kansas.

The second half of the novel further diverges from the movie. In the novel, Addie helps her father bilk cotton dealers, and collaborates with him to encourage "marks" to become investors in a worthless lost mine or, alternatively, a pseudo-health tonic named PruYea for the prunes and yeast it is allegedly concocted with. In a series of final scenes, Addie herself serves as the lead character in a climactic scam against a wealthy, dishonest lawyer in New Orleans.