Born in Natchez, MS. Education: Graduated from the University of the South.
God of the Door: A Novel, Palmetto Lodge Press (Covington, LA), 1993.
O Bed! O Breakfast!, Genesis Press (Columbus, MS), 2000.
Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.
Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
Robert Dalby's two novels, Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly and Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly, tell "the adventures of the citizens of Second Creek, Mississippi, where people ballroom-dance in the aisles of the local Piggly Wiggly, strange weather patterns affect the characters in unexpected ways, and lovable quirks are not only expected but practically required for citizenship," wrote the author on his Web site A Good Blog Is Hard to Find. "Drop on by Second Creek, Mississippi," Dalby invited readers. "Find out who the Nitwitts are. Pull for Mr. Choppy Dunbar, second-generation owner of the Piggly Wiggly, to solve both his business problems and his troublesome romantic past."
In Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly, we make the acquaintance of Hale "Choppy" Dunbar, who is one of the chief citizens of Second Creek and the owner of the local Piggly Wiggly (one of the first self-service grocery chains, still alive in the American South and parts of the Midwest). Unfortunately, Second Creek's Piggly Wiggly can't compete with the lower-priced mega-supermarkets now moving into town, and Mr. Dunbar's store is slated to close. Enter Laurie Lepanto, local doyenne of organization, whose memories associated with the Second Creek Piggly Wiggly go back for decades. The building has been more than a store for the residents of Second Creek—it has also served, on occasion, as town hall, community center, and romantic rendezvous. Enlisting the help of the local widows' association, the Nitwitts, and a former ballroom dance instructor, Powell Hampton, Laurie sets out to save the Piggly Wiggly from extinction. In an effort to keep the store solvent—and open—Hampton "agrees to dance down the grocery aisles with female shoppers while store employees do the shopping," explained Patricia Denehy on the Web site Curled Up with a Good Book. "Will this novel scheme be enough to save the store?"
Readers discover in the seque,l Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly, that in fact, Laurie's scheme was not enough to save the supermarket. However, Choppy Dunbar has moved on, and has aspirations to run for mayor of Second Creek. Laurie, and her new husband, Powell Hampton, decide to help Choppy in his quest, aided (once again) by the Nitwitts. The Dunbar election team faces off against the unsavory incumbent, one Floyce Hammontree, a local politician who might have preferred a career in entertaining but can't live with the thought of being defeated by a former grocer. "The plot becomes more complicated when Gaylie Girl, Mr. Choppy's girlfriend of years past, returns to Second Creek, and when one of the Nitwitts suddenly becomes ill," wrote James L. Dickerson in the Jackson Free Press. "For the most part, however, the story stays true to its election theme." "‘Kissing Babies at the Piggly Wiggly’ won't make you think about much in particular," Dickerson concluded, "but it will make you smile, and that's reason enough to read it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Jackson Free Press, August 8, 2007, James L. Dickerson, "All about Kissing Babies."
Library Journal, October 15, 1993, Rosellen Brewer, review of God of the Door: A Novel, p. 87.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (March 25, 2008), Patricia Denehy, review of Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly.
A Good Blog Is Hard to Find,http://southernauthors.blogspot.com/ (March 25, 2008), author profile.