Being Dead in South Carolina

Jacob White, Author
Jacob White. Leapfrog Press (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (190p) ISBN 978-1-935248-44-6
Ebook - 200 pages - 978-1-935248-45-3
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-306-44131-5
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White's graceful yet gritty debut story collection demonstrates his great grasp of characterization and of life in the South. The folks who traverse through his set pieces are troubled, dejected, and drowning in the memories of days gone by while many are still treading water to stay afloat through the struggle of their daily lives. The title story concerns ne'er-do-well narrator Dayton, a gunshot victim whose injury has left him just slightly off-kilter as he tries to deal with his cousin Jackie's car, which he's flipped. This type of calamity and sobering aftermath saturates many of White's 17 stories. Some tales materialize into more lengthy novellas like "The Days Down Here," in which a reflective man and his dying wife ponder their life, their homestead, and a son who has grown up way too fast; in "Bethel," a brother recalls becoming reacquainted with his estranged and emotionally unstable sibling. Other stories establish their presence with an economy of poignant family-focused prose such as "My Father at the Mountainside," in which the narrator equates his fleeting happiness with his father's hand-me-down cowboy boots, or with the involuntary bonding occurring in "Out with Father." Collectively, White's assemblage, all of which have been previously published in a variety of literary journals, demonstrates an obvious and impressive love of language, all woven around the downtrodden layers of humanity in the bucolic South. (Dec.)
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