My People's Waltz

Dale Ray Phillips, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.95 (190p) ISBN 978-0-393-04715-8
Each of the 10 stories of this collection drew accolades when they first appeared in prominent literary journals, but reading them together reveals the way they meld into a darkly funny and lyrical narrative. With one exception, the stories follow narrator Richard chronologically from childhood through adolescence, into college, marriage, parenthood and divorce. Richard is a Southerner, a wanderer making and escaping homes from North Carolina to Arkansas to Texas and back. Indeed, the tug of geography is the one constant in Richard's life. He teaches college students that each person carries ""a love map, a sketchy cartography formed in childhood which outlines the topography of the people to whom we will surrender our hearts."" His grandfather, a retired judge, lives by the Haw River with a secret ""floozy""; his traveling salesman father and suicidal mother torment themselves with their repeated separations and reconciliations; Richard himself marries up only to learn that upward mobility doesn't ease the difficult work of keeping love alive. Richard's people--hard drinking, smoking, carp-fishing, shady men and cuckolding, pliant women--hold onto one another long after love no longer works. In one memorable scene, Richard plays a game called ""electricity"" with his mother: he grabs a hot wire with one hand, his mother's hand with the other; as the conductor he feels nothing. The reader is not so grounded: Phillips's prose flashes powerful unpredictability with every delicious little shock. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Show other formats
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-380-73336-1
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-393-34290-1
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.