These fourteen funny stories tell the tale of a beleaguered boyhood down home where the dogs still run loose. As a boy growing up in the tiny backwater town of Forty-Five, South Carolina (where everybody is pretty much one beer short of a six-pack), all Mendal Dawes wants is out.
It’s not just his hometown that’s hopeless. Mendal’s father is just as bad. Embarrassing his son to death nearly every day, Mr. Dawes is a parenting guide’s bad example. He buries stuff in the backyard—fake toxic barrels, imitation Burma Shave signs (BIRD ON A WIRE, BIRD ON A PERCH, FLY TOWARD HEAVEN, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH), yardstick collections. He calls Mendal “Fuzznuts” and makes him recite Marx and Durkheim daily and befriend a classmate rumored to have head lice.
Mendal Dawes is a boy itching to get out of town, to take the high road and leave the South and his dingbat dad far behind—just like those car-chasing dogs.
But bottom line, this funky, sometimes outrageous, and always very human tale is really about how Mendal discovers that neither he nor the dogs actually want to catch a ride, that the hand that has fed them has a lot more to offer. On the way to watching that light dawn, we also get to watch the Dawes’s precarious relationship with a place whose “gene pool [is] so shallow that it wouldn’t take a Dr. Scholl’s insert to keep one’s soles dry.”
To be consistently funny is a great gift. To be funny and cynical and empathetic all at the same time is George Singleton’s special gift, put brilliantly into play in this new collection.
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.