Catalogue


Spit baths : stories /
Greg Downs.
imprint
Athens : University of Georgia Press, c2006.
description
xi, 174 p. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0820328464 (alk. paper), 9780820328461 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Athens : University of Georgia Press, c2006.
isbn
0820328464 (alk. paper)
9780820328461 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
6142998
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2006-08-07:
Examining the nooks and crannies of contemporary backwater life in the South and Midwest, Downs's debut collection opens with a kaleidoscopic description of an extended family breaking apart that is as disorienting as it is beautiful. "Black Pork" follows a white minor league pitcher back to the former sharecropper's shack he shares with his dementia-plagued grandfather, and manages to be simultaneously excruciating and deeply insightful about race as it centers on the two men's relationship with the black single mother and daughter across the lane. In "Ain't I a King, Too?" (set in 1935) a man about to leave his family finds himself abducted when he is mistaken for the then just assassinated Huey P. Long, the corrupt former governor of Louisiana. "Freedom Rider" turns similarly odd when a school trip turns into a physical free-for-all among the adolescent participants. Even more darkly, in "A Comparative History of Nashville Love Affairs," a middle-aged man considers the frailties of his own marriage after observing a colleague eyeing a group of the colleague's wife's students. A strong sense of style and unfaltering command of his material allow Downs to take the kinds of risks in tone and subject that make his debut a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Downs writes with a Southern twang. . . . Themes and symbols tend to recur: state lines spell betrayal, kids are in the care of grandparents. But there's immense heart to Downs's quirky but controlled storytelling."-- Philadelphia Magazine
"Downs writes with a Southern twang. . . . Themes and symbols tend to recur: state lines spell betrayal, kids are in the care of grandparents. But there's immense heart to Downs's quirky but controlled storytelling."--Philadelphia Magazine
"In his tales of historical intrusion, Downs also speaks elegantly of those ugly histories, namely of racism and hatred, that we'd rather forget, and paints a hopeful portrait of the role family can play in healing those wounds . . . Downs is gifted at presenting the tension that accompanies familial lovebe it the bafflement those tied by blood feel at the depth of their attachment, or the anxiety those bound by choice feel when realizing affection alone may not hold them together. His historical scope serves to enliven, not obscure, this uncertainty."-- San Francisco Chronicle
"The American short story is in fine hands with Greg Downs and Spit Baths . The stories are often funny, always deft. Here, the conundrums of American life and family are put in bold relief. Readers are in for a treat."--Christopher Tilghman, author of Roads of the Heart
"The American short story is in fine hands with Greg Downs andSpit Baths. The stories are often funny, always deft. Here, the conundrums of American life and family are put in bold relief. Readers are in for a treat."--Christopher Tilghman, author ofRoads of the Heart
"A strong sense of style and unfaltering command of his material allow Downs to take the kinds of risks in tone and subject that make his debut a love-it-or-hate-it proposition."-- Publishers Weekly
"A strong sense of style and unfaltering command of his material allow Downs to take the kinds of risks in tone and subject that make his debut a love-it-or-hate-it proposition."--Publishers Weekly
"[Downs's] prose is evocative and finely tuned to his gritty material, and his narratives illuminate his characters and their concerns while acknowledging that the social forces that inform both are impossible to explicate, not because they are too far outside the reader's experience but, rather, because they are too close."-- Virginia Quarterly Review
"[Downs's] prose is evocative and finely tuned to his gritty material, and his narratives illuminate his characters and their concerns while acknowledging that the social forces that inform both are impossible to explicate, not because they are too far outside the reader's experience but, rather, because they are too close."--Virginia Quarterly Review
"[Spit Baths] demonstrates nicely the strange beauty of Downs's imagination. . . . [Downs] is a writer to watch. His work has a cerebral, surreal element."--Kirkus Reviews
"Rich and mesmerizing collection of short fiction."-- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Rich and mesmerizing collection of short fiction."--Philadelphia Inquirer
"[ Spit Baths ] demonstrates nicely the strange beauty of Downs's imagination. . . . [Downs] is a writer to watch. His work has a cerebral, surreal element."-- Kirkus Reviews
"In his tales of historical intrusion, Downs also speaks elegantly of those ugly histories, namely of racism and hatred, that we'd rather forget, and paints a hopeful portrait of the role family can play in healing those wounds . . . Downs is gifted at presenting the tension that accompanies familial lovebe it the bafflement those tied by blood feel at the depth of their attachment, or the anxiety those bound by choice feel when realizing affection alone may not hold them together. His historical scope serves to enliven, not obscure, this uncertainty."--San Francisco Chronicle
"Always engaging, at times compelling, Spit Baths is both thoroughly original and completely authentic. Greg Downs unifies these disparate stories through their tonedeadpan, informed with preternatural wisdom, so real they verge into surreal. Working from events stranger than fiction, he explores the hard truths at the edges of our lives, especially regarding the lingering scars of racism. In the process, he draws back a curtain to reveal a world in which people are always searching, never finding someone or some place they can call home."--Fenton Johnson, author of Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey
"Always engaging, at times compelling,Spit Bathsis both thoroughly original and completely authentic. Greg Downs unifies these disparate stories through their tonedeadpan, informed with preternatural wisdom, so real they verge into surreal. Working from events stranger than fiction, he explores the hard truths at the edges of our lives, especially regarding the lingering scars of racism. In the process, he draws back a curtain to reveal a world in which people are always searching, never finding someone or some place they can call home."--Fenton Johnson, author ofKeeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, August 2006
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
With a reporter's eye for the inside story and a historian's grasp of the ironies in our collective past, Greg Downs affectionately observes some of the last survivors of what Greil Marcus has called the old, weird America. Living off the map and out of sight, folks like Embee, Rudy, Peg, and Branch define themselves by where they are, not by what they eat, drink, or wear. The man who is soon to abandon his family in "Ain't I a King, Too?" is mistaken for the populist autocrat of Louisiana, Huey P. Long--on the day after Long's assassination. In "Hope Chests," a history teacher marries his student and takes her away from a place she hated, only to find that neither one of them can fully leave it behind. An elderly man in "Snack Cakes" enlists his grandson to help distribute his belongings among his many ex-wives, living and dead. In the title story, another intergenerational family tale, a young boy is caught in a feud between his mother and grandmother. The older woman uses the language of baseball to convey her view of religion and nobility to her grandson before the boy's mother takes him away, maybe forever. Caught up in pasts both personal and epic, Downs's characters struggle to maintain their peculiar, grounded manners in an increasingly detached world.
Main Description
With a reporter's eye for the inside story and a historian's grasp of the ironies in our collective past, Greg Downs affectionately observes some of the last survivors of what Greil Marcus has called the old, weird America. Living off the map and out of sight, folks like Embee, Rudy, Peg, and Branch define themselves by where they are, not by what they eat, drink, or wear.The man who is soon to abandon his family in "Ain't I a King, Too?" is mistaken for the populist autocrat of Louisiana, Huey P. Long--on the day after Long's assassination. In "Hope Chests," a history teacher marries his student and takes her away from a place she hated, only to find that neither one of them can fully leave it behind. An elderly man in "Snack Cakes" enlists his grandson to help distribute his belongings among his many ex-wives, living and dead. In the title story, another intergenerational family tale, a young boy is caught in a feud between his mother and grandmother. The older woman uses the language of baseball to convey her view of religion and nobility to her grandson before the boy's mother takes him away, maybe forever.Caught up in pasts both personal and epic, Downs's characters struggle to maintain their peculiar, grounded manners in an increasingly detached world.
Table of Contents
Adam's cursep. 1
Black porkp. 4
The hired manp. 28
Snack cakesp. 35
Spit bathsp. 51
Field tripp. 67
A comparative history of Nashville love affairsp. 80
Indoor plumbingp. 95
Freedom ridesp. 100
Ain't I a king, too?p. 115
Domestic architecturep. 136
Hope chestsp. 146
Between statesp. 164
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem