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The Half-Mammals of Dixie Paperback – September 8, 2003
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A writing teacher and ashtray-collecting, flea-market hound himself, Singleton builds most of his stories around first-person narrators, evoking such writers as Flannery O'Connor, Barry Hannah, and Raymond Carver, but infusing each tale with his own brand of sly humor and outsider skepticism. Singleton is particularly good at capturing the rhythms and peculiarities of southern speech, as in this passage from "When Children Count": "You sound exactly like my dead sister," this woman said, pushing her full cart into Tammy's backside. "I ain't never heard nothing like that. Say this: 'I will never, ever order a club sandwich here, what with the ptomaine.' Say it. Say."
While most of the stories are funny--"Richard Petty Accepts National Book Award" is an absolute marvel of conception and execution--a few of the tales that hit hardest are much darker. Especially haunting is "Bank of America," which centers around four childhood friends who still gather annually as adults in a swamp-land tree house, from which they fish for turtles and are forced, one fateful year, to confront the consequences of past misdeeds. Despite the story's title, which refers to a character who works at a national chain of banks, Singleton tells the story in a voice that's as unique as the flawed, but mostly likable, characters who populate his hometown. --Keith Moerer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
These stories are funny(sometimes uproariously so), they are wistful, they are damning, they are evocative. It is clear that while George is quick to lampoon the stupidities that rural southern life is so often steeped in, there is also an appreciation, an affection for the south that tempers his barbs.
Some reviewers have charged that this volume is uneven. I disagree; it is true that the stories are not funny from beginning to end, and that some are funnier than others, but I would also posit the notion that George's purpose in writing these stories is perhaps deeper than merely evoking amusement. He is not a one-trick pony, limited to the realm of belly-laughs.
As for those who were bored with this collection, might I suggest something a little more to your tastes? Something nice and two-dimensional from Patterson or Evanovich, maybe?
If you are a Southerner, this book will ring with truth, because Mr. Singleton's characters are so obviously around the block, if not next door. If you know that prosperity can be measured in the number of cars you have up on blocks in the FRONT yard, you're in the neighborhood. If you're afraid to get of I-95 between the Virginia border and Florida, or I-10 between the Louisiana border and Houston, this is the book for you. Or, if you took I-64 thinking you'd go through West Virginia and turned around where it ended (Fie, Senator Byrd!)...you need to get right with Dixie.
I could hardly recommend Mr. Singleton's stories higher--up with Confederates in the Attic (nonfiction), or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (possibly fiction). His characters refer to Nietzche, get regular calls from the FBI and John Walsh, or play 20 questions as a marital ritual, or find themselves thinking about cosines, and sines for "no reason in particular." And, they tend to think of lead pipes for uses not related to who did what to whom in the drawing room. They have no clue, but they're right on.
I highly recommend you get into this book, and it compares in frankness with Walker Percy, without the I Went to Medical School in New York puttin' on airs. Regular folks, who know the difference between a live oak (you can look it up) and poison ivy, at least.
Yep, it ITCHES, y'all. Rather be a lying dog than a dog lyin'.
The stories themselves focus primarily on the fringes (though a good cross section of those fringes) of Forty-Five society--if such a small town can be thought to have either fringe--or society--for that matter.
While the book is very enjoyable overall the quality of the stories varies considerably. There are moments of incredible hilarity counterpoised by moments of complete boredom. In too many places one senses that Singleton's trying just a bit to hard to make the characters too off the wall, and the whole exercise can then seem a bit too contrived However, a gem of a moment shortly follow and redeems the whole exercise.
On the whole a good read. If Singleton can improve on overall consistency he'll be a first class short story writer. However, at this point he's very good, and that's better than most.
Here you are going to enjoy 14 stories,all exactly 20 pages long,that cover things that are only too real if one only has the ability to observe them happening.Any one of them could have been expanded to fill a book. To the people involved,it is only the ordinary occurrences of daily life.
To be a writer, one first of all must be an observer;and Singleton shows that he is both of these in his storytelling.From reading this book,I concluded that if you were to set Singleton down in just about any small town,he could soon observe goings on and people that could fill a book like this.
One of my favorite personalities was Jean Shepherd . He was one of the best when it came to observing and telling stories about ordinary people and things. He had a TV series,"Jean Shepherd's America",wrote several books books,wrote a movie "The Christmas Story"(a classic),had a nightly radio show on WOR New York in the 70's.Check him out if you liked this book. "Shep" left us a number of yesars ago,but Singleton may just be the one who is going to replace him.
What a great,entertaining storyteller!!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An entertaining, if unusual collection of stories by one of my favorite Southern authors. While I agree with some of the other reviewers that some of the stories are exceptionally... Read morePublished on November 19, 2013 by Southern Cross
The stories are kooky and unusual but somehow believable. They vary from very funny to just plain odd. This is fiction that has a strong regional or small-town appeal. Read morePublished on October 8, 2013 by Lee Wheatley
The Half-Mammals of Dixie is now one of my favorite short story collections. I read 2 or 3 stories from it a few years ago, but I just got around to reading the whole book last... Read morePublished on March 5, 2013 by Mark J
Not a bad book, but if you're really wanting a good collection of stories from the South, read Tim Gautreaux's Welding with Children.Published on August 2, 2012 by Jamie Filpi
The Half-Mammals of Dixie by George Singleton is a collection of short stories centered around the fictitious town of Forty-Five, South Carolina. Read morePublished on July 3, 2010 by BermudaOnion
This book makes me wonder what the author was smoking when he wrote it. It is frustrating, confusing at times, and sometimes totally unrealistic. Read morePublished on February 16, 2004 by Chrissy
Singleton has done a great job of portraying Southern characters accurately and honestly. He has deep and engaging characters that are so rare in short stories. Read morePublished on December 17, 2002 by Michael W. Graham
No one does it better - George's second collection of stories are absolutely great. It's almost like he sneaks up on you, makes you laugh, and then darts away to the next bit of... Read morePublished on October 7, 2002 by Ed Williams