Being Dead in South Carolina.

Author:O'Loughlin, Amy
Position:Book review

Jacob White (author); BEING DEAD IN SOUTH CAROLINA; Leapfrog Press (Fiction: Short Stories) 15.95 ISBN: 9781935248446

Byline: Amy O'Loughlin

Bewilderment, frustration, and despair keep the men in these stories on edge with only brief moments of hope to move them forward.

Male protagonists in crisis comprise the majority of heartrending short stories in Jacob White's debut collection. Men find themselves "demoted" from their lives, fathers are estranged from their sons, sons exist at the mercy of their fathers, and husbands are abandoned by their wives. Their predicaments are grave -- and in prose that is unadorned yet fiercely affective, White conveys a true and solemn poignancy.

Most of the seventeen stories are set in White's native South Carolina. Landscapes of pine, myrtle, and kudzu situate readers, while White's dialogue echoes a Southern drawl: "You and yours grab y'all a beer out that bag. We Christian," says a character from "San Sebastian," an uproarious tale about several ne'er-do-wells whose get-rich-quick scheme is to pour motor oil into a hole and convince speculators that it's a "natural [oil] rupture."

The title story features Dayton, a gunshot victim who's stymied by memory loss and his family's desertion. Apathetically, Dayton visits childhood friends to "re-associate" his memory. The fraught outcome reconciles him. "I know I'm tearing once again from the cradle of kindness," Dayton concedes. "I've been born again a thousand times, and each time's scarier than the last."

Rebirth by way of...

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