Singleton, George 1958–
Singleton, George 1958–
PERSONAL: Born 1958, in Greenwood, SC. Education: Furman University, graduated, 1980; University of North Carolina at Greensboro, M.F.A., 1982.
ADDRESSES: Office—South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, 15 University St., Greenville, SC 29601.
CAREER: Writer. Worked variously in construction, in a warehouse, in a manufacturing plant, and as a house painter; has taught English and creative writing at the secondary and college levels; South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, writing teacher.
These People Are Us (short stories), River City Press (Montgomery, AL), 2001.
The Half-Mammals of Dixie (short stories), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2002.
Why Dogs Chase Cars: Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood (short stories), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2004.
Contributor of stories to anthologies, including New Southern Harmonies: Four Emerging Fiction Writers, Hub City Writers Project, 1998; Silver Rose Anthology: Award-winning Short Stories 2001, edited by Kevin Watson and Alexandra York, Silver Prose Press, 2002; New Stories from the South—The Year's Best; and Writers Harvest 2. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlanta, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Playboy, Book, Zoetrope, Southern Review, Georgia Review, New England Review, Kansas Quarterly, Arkansas Review, North America Review, and Shenandoah.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A set of novellas and stories titled A Novel Titled Novel, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: George Singleton has made a name for himself writing about the quirky characters of "the slaburbs," the communities along the super slab highways that traverse Singleton's native South Carolina and much of the South. Although Singleton lives in the American South, he does not think of himself as a southern writer—as he explains it, he just tells stories. Indeed, his characters and situations are more than provincial, and readers and reviewers alike have recognized their universality.
Singleton began writing during his sophomore year of college, inspired by such works as Gravity's Rainbow, The Sotweed Factor, and The World according to Garp. After deciding against a career as a public defender, Singleton worked at a variety of jobs while earning a master's degree in fine arts that which gave him the credentials to teach and thus support his literary efforts. Many of Singleton's stories first appeared in such varied magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, New England Review, Kansas Quarterly, Playboy, Southern Review, and Atlanta before they were collected as These People Are Us, The Half-Mammals of Dixie, and Why Dogs Chase Cars: Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood. According to many critics, Singleton is to be recognized not only for his sharp wit and humor but also for his exceptional literary talent. As the author told Gavin J. Grant of BookSense.com, his short fiction is "kind of like hard blasts of water from a garden hose, directed toward some unsuspecting person minding his or her own business by a practical joker hunched behind some boxwoods."
The Half-Mammals of Dixie contains fifteen stories that use the fictional town of Forty-five, South Carolina, as a reference point. The half-animals of the title include a man who scuba dives to find old fishing lures he can refurbish and sell, a boy who regrets being the star of a documentary on head lice, a faux primitive artist, a man in love with his son's third-grade teacher, and an aquarium salesman. Enthusiasts of Singleton's stories include Booklist reviewer Keir Graff, who praised the author's "quick wit, keen intelligence, and empathy," and a Virginia Quarterly Review contributor who applauded Singleton's "sympathy and wit." Likewise, Aaron Gwyn noted in Review of Contemporary Fiction that while the characters and situations in the stories are often comical, they "gesture toward the deeper and often disturbing undercurrents of existence."
Why Dogs Chase Cars: Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood contains another fourteen stories set in Forty-five. In this collection the narratives all revolve around the activities and world as seen through the eyes of Mendal Dawes, a sensitive and well-read fifteen year old. According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, Singleton's trademark humor is evident, yet this episodic coming-of-age narrative "is as poignant as it is outrageous."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, September-October, 2002, Kevin Greenberg, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 77.
Booklist, August, 2002, Keir Graff, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 1926.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 914; July 1, 2004, review of Why Dogs Chase Cars: Tales of a Beleaguered Boyhood, p. 603.
Publishers Weekly, August 12, 2002, Jeff Zaleski, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 277; August 2, 2004, review of Why Dogs Chase Cars, p. 51.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2003, Aaron Gwyn, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 146.
Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 2003, review of The Half-Mammals of Dixie, p. 58.
Booksense.com, http://www.booksense.com/ (July 21, 2004), Gavin J. Grant, interview with Singleton.