Drowning in Gruel

George Singleton, Author . Harvest $14 (307p) ISBN 978-0-15-603061-8

Singleton returns to the small South Carolina town where he set his acclaimed first novel, Novel , for this delightfully obsessive collection of stories, which reads like a group celebration of the excess and eccentricities found in the tiny Southern hamlet of Gruel. The only common element: a shared preoccupation with staying put in, getting out of, coming home to and passing through Gruel. From the owner of Roughhouse Billiards, who sells hot dogs, to the proprietor of the army-navy surplus store, who hawks gas masks as Valentine's Day gifts, the citizens of Gruel form a backdrop against which the more transient characters—the women's studies major who visits to compete in the town's car decorating contest; the freelance indexer fired for listing Republicans under "Idiotic behavior"—stand out in sharper relief for their quirky loneliness and creative longings. Singleton is so careful to include references to Southern literary life and the short story form that some exchanges feel rigged, but in the book's quiet moments, his people hit a tragicomic zenith. (June)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-547-78990-3
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