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Review and Literary Road Trip: The Half-Mammals of Dixie

July 2, 2010

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.  Since these stories are set in South Carolina, and the author lives in South Carolina,  I’m counting this book as part of my Literary Road Trip.  (Watch for a giveaway of this title next week.)

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2010 7:41 am

    Have you read George Singleton’s Drowning in Gruel? It is a companion collection to The Half-Mammals of Dixie, I enjoyed it even more.

  2. July 2, 2010 7:42 am

    That second short story you mentioned sounds funny!

  3. July 2, 2010 7:59 am

    These stories sound hilarious! I love the South. I’m not originally from the South, but I’ve been down here long enough to consider myself one of them. I need a good laugh – I’ve been reading a whole lot of heartbreaking stuff lately. BTW, have you ever read Jhumpa Lahiri? In “Interpreter of Maladies” and “Unaccustomed Earth”, she puts more character development in thirty or forty pages than you see in entire books, I kid you not. If you haven’t read any of her work, you must.

  4. July 2, 2010 8:38 am

    The short stories you mention sound fantastic! Thanks again for participating in Literary Road Trip!

  5. July 2, 2010 8:45 am

    This collection sounds funny-plus the title is great! I hadn’t realized that the women’s movement caused the decline in education :) .
    I had a student this year who claimed that the women’s movement for the reason for a decline in American productivity!

  6. July 2, 2010 9:07 am

    Wow, this sounds like a fun collection…thanks for the great review. I’m going to have to check this one out.

  7. July 2, 2010 9:34 am

    I love the name “Forty-Five”!

  8. July 2, 2010 10:51 am

    Oh, this collection sounds excellent! I think I shy away from short stories for the same reasons that you do, so it’s good to hear that this one doesn’t fall into that trap. I think this book sounds really interesting and funny and I will definitely be looking out for it!!

  9. July 2, 2010 10:59 am

    I usually avoid short story collections, but this one sounds like it might be for me.

    Thanks for the Gods in Alabama suggestion. I hadn’t read any of Joshilyn Jackson’s stuff before, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for sales on her books for my Sony Reader. (I just love that dang thing…I sort of wish all of my books were e-books! And yes, that does feel just a little bit like blasphemy to say…)

  10. July 2, 2010 11:06 am

    These do sound fun! I bet they’d be really funny on audio too!

  11. July 2, 2010 11:37 am

    I agree with you. I usually avoid reading short stories too because I don’t think it’s enough to develop the characters and advance the plot. But seeing how much you enjoyed this book I’m definitely going to give it a shot.

  12. July 2, 2010 12:00 pm

    I’m not always crazy about short stories, but this sounds like a collection I might enjoy — the setting and the quirky characters are pluses.

  13. July 2, 2010 1:47 pm

    Sounds like a terrific collection. I’ve determined that I’ll no longer try to read a whole book of short stories straight through; I enjoy them much better that way.

  14. July 2, 2010 3:52 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it Kathy. I just can’t seem to get into short stories at all.

  15. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 2, 2010 3:55 pm

    Just recently I’ve begun to enjoy a sprinkling of short stories, and this collection sounds really good. Thanks, Kathy!

  16. July 2, 2010 5:18 pm

    I am not usually a short story reader, but the title and cover image sure caught my eye. They sound like amusing/crazy tales!

  17. July 2, 2010 7:11 pm

    I stay away from short stories as well, but I think I can give this one a try!

  18. July 2, 2010 7:16 pm

    I’ve grown to love short stories just this past year. This collection is now on my List.

  19. July 2, 2010 10:43 pm

    This story collection sounds delightful!

  20. July 3, 2010 1:15 am

    This book looks absolutely delightful! I was engaged just by your review. I love short stories collections. I’ll have to check it out.

  21. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 3, 2010 6:14 pm

    I’m not crazy about short stories either and know it’s because I haven’t found the right ones for me. Glad this collection whet your appetite for the genre.

  22. July 5, 2010 11:44 am

    The title alone is enough to make me pick this one up, and the southern connection clinches the deal.

  23. July 8, 2010 8:20 am

    Those stories you mentioned sound funny! I’ll keep this collection in mind.

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