Why Dogs Chase Cars: Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood (Paperback)
Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 9781565124042, 300pp.
Publication Date: September 17, 2004
List Price: 12.95*
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Not Currently Available for Direct Purchase
These fourteen funny stories tell the tale of a beleaguered boyhood down home where the dogs still run loose. As a boy growing up in the tiny backwater town of Forty-Five, South Carolina (where everybody is pretty much one beer short of a six-pack), all Mendal Dawes wants is out. 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.