BKMT READING GUIDES

My People's Waltz
by Dale Ray Phillips

Published: 1999-03-17
Paperback : 192 pages
0 members reading this now
0 club reading this now
0 members have read this book

Meet Richard, the winning and irrepressible narrator of this debut collection of interconnected stories by Southerner Dale Ray Phillips. My People's Waltz is the story of Richard's world ? a place where people drink hard, lie and cheat freely, and yet still find the time to waltz in ...

No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to

Introduction

Meet Richard, the winning and irrepressible narrator of this debut collection of interconnected stories by Southerner Dale Ray Phillips. My People's Waltz is the story of Richard's world ? a place where people drink hard, lie and cheat freely, and yet still find the time to waltz in their kitchens. From North Carolina to Arkansas to the Texas Gulf Coast, from his mother's nervous breakdowns to his father's erratic attempts to win his family's love, Richard's journey from childhood to adulthood ultimately becomes a pilgrimage to salvage some part of his own damaged heart. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, these award-winning stories herald a new voice in Southern American fiction.

At first glance, Dale Ray Phillips appears to be cut from the classic Southern storyteller's cloth. That is, he's got a fine colloquial style, an assortment of Dixie-fried settings scattered throughout North Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas, and the sort of heightened, occasionally grotesque approach to character that seems to flourish below the Mason-Dixon line. But Phillips is much too talented a writer to pigeonhole. And My People's Waltz, which is billed as a collection of linked stories, is an extraordinary debut.

We first meet Richard, the narrator, at age 8. In the wake of his mother's mental illness--which has caused her abrupt disappearance into a sanatorium--the miserable child has fallen into a state of muteness. "Not talking don't make you special," one young relative cautions him. Happily for the reader, though, Richard's silence leaves him no less observant:

My grandfather kept his floozy in a silver Airstream above the bend in the river where the dead crossed over. He had finagled Miss Minnie a job as lifetime caretaker of a little patch of no-man's-land and a cemetery just across the Haw River. Whenever a black tenant farmer died, we watched from the trailer's picture window as a slipshod barge fashioned of dye-barrel pontoons and salvaged lumber ferried the coffin and mourners across the river to the grave.
By the end of "Why I'm Talking," Richard regains his powers of speech. Yet his other wounds--the kind inflicted by the spectator sport of family life--are slower to heal. He grows up, comes to terms with his parents, and has his own trip through the wringer of love and marriage ("On Friday, Lisa points out that I've been drunk since signing the divorce papers"). What never fails him, or the reader, is the voice that Dale Ray Phillips has honed: eloquent, funny, and invariably forgiving. --William Davies

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

No discussion questions at this time.

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
There are no user reviews at this time.
Rate this book
MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search




FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...