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Welcome to Higby Hardcover – October 1, 2002
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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.
I like this author and would, perhaps, enjoy this story if there weren't so many distractions due to poor editing. Save your money until someone fixes this version!
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!
But I liked it enough to read on. Perhaps I was wondering how Dunn's plot might parallel T. R. Pearson's "A Short History of a Small Place", what with the town water tower serving as the start and end of the Higby visit.
The characters in this tale are richly eccentric and colorful to match their names. Dunn had fun with these names: Carmen Valentine, Harold and Carold, the Pedloe twins, Klaus and Abbadene Ostermeyer, Stewie, Tie, Ponce, Talitha, Bowmar, and more. And the reader is reminded of the cleverness of Dickens and Twain in their naming of casts of characters.
Dunn's playwright's talent definitely influences his novel. He has a way of setting up scenes that might be vividly played out on stage or on screen. And with the humorous situations into which he places his cast, one also sees the pathos of real life, the true basis of humor, a deep sorrow of the valleys of life, not just the high points.
Each character, starting with a grieving teenaged boy named Clint Cullen, a preacher's son, no less, and a love-starved maker of potato salad, virginal Carmen Valentine, is likeable and believable. In fact, you may swear that you know some of these people. Dunn skillfully manages his "cast of thousands" by weaving them into one another's lives, just as small towns tend to do to their citizens.
I do recommend this book. It is a nice escape from TV and its laugh track sit-coms and over-done reality series. And you will find laugh-out-loud moments, good for what ails you during winter doldrums.
Most recent customer reviews
The only decent one out of the whole lot was HANK.
The rest of the folks were very iffy, at best.Read more