Why Dogs Chase Cars
Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood
By George Singleton
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Paperback, 9781565124042, 300pp.)
Publication Date: September 2004
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It's not just his hometown that's hopeless. Mendal's father is just as bad. Embarrassing his son to death nearly every day, Mr. Dawes is a parenting guide's bad example. He buries stuff in the backyard--fake toxic barrels, imitation Burma Shave signs (BIRD ON A WIRE, BIRD ON A PERCH, FLY TOWARD HEAVEN, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH), yardstick collections. He calls Mendal "Fuzznuts" and makes him recite Marx and Durkheim daily and befriend a classmate rumored to have head lice.
Mendal Dawes is a boy itching to get out of town, to take the high road and leave the South and his dingbat dad far behind--just like those car-chasing dogs.
But bottom line, this funky, sometimes outrageous, and always very human tale is really about how Mendal discovers that neither he nor the dogs actually want to catch a ride, that the hand that has fed them has a lot more to offer. On the way to watching that light dawn, we also get to watch the Dawes's precarious relationship with a place whose "gene pool is] so shallow that it wouldn't take a Dr. Scholl's insert to keep one's soles dry."
To be consistently funny is a great gift. To be funny and cynical and empathetic all at the same time is George Singleton's special gift, put brilliantly into play in this new collection.