George Singleton, who's had many stories published in the best literary journals, has recently burst into the big time with appearances in Playboy, Zoetrope, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine and Book. The stories in his new collection are wild and wooly - or maybe we should say wild and half-wooly. In any case, they're definitely not for the creationist crowd or for the laughter impaired. For example: - A self-described "primitive artist," getting rich off religious canvases, is mistaken for a faith healer. - A lovelorn dad woos his third grader's teacher with very special show-and-tells, including long lost love letters to Shakespeare from Anne Hathaway, to Fred Astaire from Ginger Rogers, and to Henry VIII from all of his wives. - A boy's reputation is ruined forever when he accepts the starring role in a documentary on diagnosing head lice. Off-the-wall. But also utterly believable and written with tremendous affection for the people and their place-a place called Forty-Five, part of the contemporary South that's far removed from big city Atlanta or proper Charleston and, in fact, much like Singleton's own hometown of Dacusville, South Carolina. As he says of his characters, "They're regular people just trying to get by. Most of them aren't jaded by everyday life, though perhaps they should have been long ago. There are some with physical and mental limitations, but I hope all of them have heart." They do indeed, just like their stories.read more
George Singleton lives in Dacusville, South Carolina, and teaches writing at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. His short stories appear regularly in national magazines--the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, Zoetrope, Playboy--and literary journals--the Southern Review, Shenandoah, the Georgia Review, Yalobusha Review, and many others. He is also the author of These People Are Us and The Half-Mammals of Dixie.read more
The Half-Mammals of Dixie by George Singleton is a collection of short stories centered around the fictitious town of Forty-Five, South Carolina. These are tales of the South, but not the stereotypical South (genteel and racist) so many people love to read about – these stories are more of the “good ol’ boy” South variety. I generally stay away from short story collections, because I usually don’t think there’s enough character development in them, but after reading this collection, I’ve decided that I was probably reading the wrong collections before – these stories are simply a hoot!As you would suspect with a collection of stories, I enjoyed some of them more than others. My favorites (and the ones Carl had to hear about) are: * Show-and-Tell – is the story of Mendal Dawes. When his mom deserted the family, his dad began calling himself a widower. Mendal’s third grade teacher is one of his dad’s old girlfriends, so in an effort to woo her, Mendal’s dad gives him all kinds of crazy things to take to school for show-and-tell, like a love letter written by a famous person that contains the line, “That guy who wrote that “How Do I Love Thee” poem has nothing on us, my sugar-booger-baby.” The way Mendal and his dad end up handling this potential relationship is priceless. * Public Relations – tells the story of V.O., who loses his job when he proceeds to tell a potential client his theory of the decline of the American educational system at a business dinner. He has a crazy theory of how the women’s movement has ruined the schools in this country and, as you can imagine, it doesn’t sit well with the female client his company’s trying to lure.The Half-Mammals of Dixie is a solid collection of short stories with lots of quirky characters that readers will delight in. I think those who live in, or have a love for, the South will enjoy these stories the most.read more
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Singleton expands upon the peculiar conceits of his debut collection, These People Are Us, in these 15 offbeat stories. Set mostly around the little South Carolina backwater of Forty-Five, they take on everything from racism to alcoholism to head lice, with plenty of laughs along the way. A hapless father clumsily tries to use his nine-year-old son to win back his high-school sweetheart (now the boy's teacher) in "Show and Tell," sending him off to school with old love notes, corsages and jewelry he had given her and making the boy pass them off as precious antiques. Another father launches a one-man crusade against a racist newspaper deliverer in "Fossils." "What Slide Rules Can't Measure" details the bizarre lives of denizens of the flea market circuit, while the title story follows an aquarium salesman to a bizarre motivational seminar, where he meets a scarred woman who sells audio books to the blind. "This Itches, Y'all" features a boy who fled youthful ignominy as the star of an educational film on head lice, then returns to his 25th class reunion to find unexpected celebrity. As in the first volume, the narrators tend to be relatively sophisticated men (or boys) who find themselves surrounded by feckless "pallet-heads." Some may find the tone of intellectual superiority condescending, but it's usually tempered by self-deprecation, to wonderful comic effect. Agents, Liz Darhansoff and Kristin Lang. (Sept. 13) Forecast: Singleton seems to be building up a reputation, as evidenced by a recent NPR feature, as well as appearances in Harpers, the Atlantic and other literary reviews. A national ad campaign and 10-city author tour will help keep up the momentum. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved