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Welcome to Higby Hardcover – October 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Writing in the spirit of his clever debut novel, Ella Minnow Pea, in which an island's language-loving inhabitants must adapt to a shrinking alphabet, Dunn delivers another witty and intricate book. This time he uses biblical quotations to guide his narrative, which tracks the residents of Higby, Miss., during Labor Day weekend of 1993, as they search for happiness, love and salvation. The tightly interwoven story lines feature a veritable swarm of oddballs, including Stewie Kipp, a born-again Christian whose fiancee, Marci Luck, resents his attempts at piety; Talitha Leigh, a floozy who is kidnapped by an extremist vegan cult and renamed "Blithe"; and dim-witted Euless Ludlam, who finds himself on the receiving end of a huge inheritance. The Bible quotes aren't just gimmicky transitional devices, since the novel closely follows themes of redemption and salvation, albeit in a screwball manner: as one character, Carmen Valentine, notes, "My guardian angel likes to help me stretch my shopping dollar." The collision of celestial concepts and quirky mannerisms makes the book both laugh-out-loud funny and sweetly touching. At its core is the belief that "God equals love," though the characters demonstrate this in some rather strange ways. Dunn, a playwright, has a wonderful ear for dialogue; his rich and enticing prose, elegant structuring and wonderful attention to the smallest of details make this novel a delight.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

As small southern towns go, Higby, Mississippi, is a hoot! Home to the Mammoth Mart, Far East House of Massage, and the We-Fix-It Auto Repair shop, Higby is a hilarious haven, a hotbed of hijinks with a high per-capita rate of wacky weirdness. From mousy Carmen Valentine, whose guardian angel, Arnetta, gives her penny-pinching shopping tips, to addled old Hank Grammar, who preaches Jesus to his neighbors' pets, Higby's townsfolk have a knack for getting into, and trouble getting out of, outrageous situations. Whether it's Clint Cullen, the minister's son with a predilection for falling off of Higby's water tower, or Talitha Leigh, who gets kidnapped by a militant cult of religious vegetarians, the attempts of Higby's residents to walk the straight-and-narrow somehow manage to take a more circuitous route. Blessed with an unerring eye for dead-on details, Dunn follows his nationally acclaimed debut novel, Ella Minnow Pea (2001), with another sparkling Southern send-up, treating the reader to a comical tour of some of the region's more entertaining eccentricities. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage; First Edition edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931561176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931561174
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,727,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eileen on September 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although very different from Dunn's previous masterpiece "Ella Minnow Pea", "Welcome to Higby" is every bit as imaginative and humorous. Through a series of interrelated vignettes of small town Mississippi life, each titled with a relevant Biblical verse, Dunn depicts the lives of some of Higby's residents, each of whom struggles with a personal problem.
These problems run the gamut from the mundane to the hilarious. Talitha is kidnapped by a small religious vegan cult. Oren, the town minister, has a crush on the town tootsie and worries about his son Clint, who climbed to the top of the town's water tower and fell off. Carmen crafts pictures with macaroni and gets advice from her guardian angel on making the best of her shopping dollar. The clueless but good-hearted Euless is stunned by a financial windfall from his employer. Hank, on the edge of the downhill slide of Alzheimers, preaches to the neighborhood pets and frequently wanders off, to the consternation of his sister. Stewie has found God, but is foundering in his relationship with women. Ex-convict Bowmar is dogged by the police for every crime in town even though he is reformed and above suspicion.
In spite of all the goings-on, this novel never degenerates into a soap opera. The common thread binding all the story lines is the endurance of love and redemption. The reader is in turn amused, touched, concerned, and ultimately satisfied that the residents of Higby have bumbled their way to a happier life. So take a trip to Higby and enjoy the ride!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LGS on December 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mark Dunn's new book is the perfect antidote to winter chill. Curl up with it in front of a fireplace while a blizzard rages outside, and watch it warm your heart and cheer your soul. Set in a small town in the Bible Belt south, the book traces the lives of several characters, including a despondent minister, a sagacious masseuse, the local male heartthrob and several cultists, over a Labor Day weekend. Stereotypes quickly fade in the author's able hands, as he weaves a tale of his characters' endearing foibles and takes the plot round some unexpected twists and turns. There are some absolutely hilarious passages, written with a deadpan humor that had me laughing out loud in the middle of the night. The book is in many ways richer than the author's award-winning "Ella Minnow Pea", and demonstrates Dunn's extraordinary versatility as a writer - the subtext is more subtle, the humor more biting, the author's command of setting and tone more skilled. Well done!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Torrid sex in an abandoned dental chair. A risky escape from a brainwashing cult. A sexy BBW guardian angel doling out advice like candy. Sounds like a funny novel? It is, and Dunn brings a wonderfully whimsical attitude to this lighthearted story of cozy southern life. Virtually everyone in a single family is accident-prone, and the rest of the town talks about how stupid or feeble they must be to get themselves into such messes.
Across town, the newly born-again Christian Stewie Kipp revives a romance with his longtime girlfriend Marci in a vacant dentist's office. Most of the people inside this story are still trying to make up their minds on whether they love beer or each other more. I vote they love the beer, but Dunn doesn't let them say. The strength of this book is how well the author conflates lives and personalities with ease and without falling into tired stereotypes. This book flies by when you're reading it and reading it a second time allows you to laugh at things you didn't catch the first time. Spend a weekend with it and you won't regret it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, it took me a few days to finish this book, I wasn't really able to get into it all that much, but once I finished it I started to like it more and more! Thinking back on all the quirky, eccentric folks of Higby, Mississippi, I was a little disapointed there wasn't more to read.

The book is about Labor Day weekend in the small town, and the going-ons in some of towns peoples lives. The chapters are real short (3-5 pages) and each focuses on a different person. There's Carmen, in love with the handsome Tie who doesn't know she exists...Stewie and Marci, who's relationship is tested, Pastor Cullen who's son Clint falls from the Higby water tower, both of whome are trying to move on after the loss of a wife and mother, and so many more!

I recommend this book as a light fun little read. You'll really enjoy the craziness and quirky drama of the folks from Higby, Mississippi.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Claire on October 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
*Welcome to Higby* was a disappointment considering the wit Dunn exhibited in *Ella Minnow Pea*--not that the book didn't have wit; it just didn't have the spark that *Ella* had.

Part of the problem was the writing itself. Dunn spent a lot of time "head-hopping" in this one. He drifted from one point-of-view to another. Not only was this distracting; it was confusing. I had to reread paragraphs to find who the main player was from one minute to the next.

His theme is beaten to death, as well--everything goes as long as "love" is involved. A minister ignores his son, partly because of his grief over his wife's death and partly because of his work; then he falls "truly in love" with a former prostitute and has sex with her upon their second meeting while his son climbs the Higby water tower for the second time. Another man falls instantly for a woman who has rear-ended his vehicle. And another man who has just converted to Christianity--but is still shacked up with his girlfriend due to an imagined "grandfather clause"--decides to bed down with a new flame, then goes back to his girlfriend, making passionate love to her the same day; and then the minister who catches who catches them is made to look ridiculous??? Other types of "love" that are deemed unacceptable by society are gushed over in this book, as well.

What humor is there is pretty run-of-the-mill (for example, a bumbling policeman, an adorable older man bordering on senility).

Little new; little original; little reason to read it.
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