by Frank Reiss
With previous story collections like These People Are Us, The Half-Mammals of Dixie, Why Dogs Chase Cars, and Drowning in Gruel, George Singleton has earned a reputation for biting humor, a not partiularly positive view of the human race, but a clear soft spot for all manner of canines.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m., we at A Cappella Books in Inman Park set Singleton loose on our patio to read from and sign copies of his new book, Stray Decorum.
It's a collection of dog stories, but as readers of Singleton might guess, though, these are not exactly sentimental tales of puppy love nor a "dogs do the darnedest things" compilation. Instead, using everyday situations like a dog needing its annual vaccination, and buckets of humorous observations, Singleton pokes and prods his readers into realizing we're all simply restless for a pat on the head.
When the South Carolina author won a Guggenheim Fellowship several years ago, the Foundation's biography of him included these observations:
- From NPR's Morning Edition: "Singleton is a raconteur of trends, counter-trends, obsessions and odd characters."
- The Half-Mammals of Dixie was named a Book magazine Top Five story collection of the year, and an amazon.com Top Ten Book of the Year, drawing comparisons to the work of Flannery O'Connor and Harry Crews.
- From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Singleton's South doesn't look like anybody else's."
- In 2004, the New York Times Book Review noted of his collection Why Dogs Chase Cars, "Singleton's hilarious insights come early and often;" then for Novel, published in 2005, "Singleton's drollness and slow-release jokes sustain the narrative even during its wackier moments."
- Kirkus Reviews noted of Novel, "Singleton may have invented a new genre. Call it The Hoot." In 2006, the publication of another collection of stories, Drowning in Gruel, prompted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to claim Singleton as "[the] unchallenged king of the comic Southern short story."
- "Singleton is an ace at locating the pathos beneath the deadpan laughs," according to USA Today.
Singleton's short stories have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Playboy, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Oxford American, the New England Review, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in nine editions of New Stories from the South.
If you go: A Cappella is located at 208 Haralson Ave. at the corner of Dekalb Avenue. Parking at A Cappella Books is extremely limited, but the store is just a short walk from the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA Station. The event is free and open to everyone.