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My People's Waltz
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My People's Waltz

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Recalling the quirky charm of Truman Capote's early fiction, this collection of 10 linked stories introduces a new voice to the Southern literary tradition, one with a lyricism and cadence all its own. Seen through the eyes of Richard, Phillips's winning and irrepressible narrator, these stories take us throughout the deep South -- from North Carolina to Arkansas to the Te ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published March 1st 1999)
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Al M
Richard just can’t get things right, and Phillips keeps telling us how. Dale Ray Phillips opens My People’s Waltz with two lines from Theodore Roethke’s, “My Papa’s Waltz:”photo

“But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.”

The waltzing boy in Roethke’s poem could easily be Phillips’ Richard. In ten short stories, Richard narrates the story of his life from his (chosen) mute boyhood in a tumultuous home to the (reluctant) home birth of his first child to the (slow) decline of his parents.
This is prose writing at its best, and it's clear why this book was nominated for a Pulitzer. This series of interlinked stories featuring a helpless, hapless, but not hopeless protagonist is sure to charm. The sentences are amazing, and Phillips never falters.
If you are a short story reader or writer feel ashamed that you've not read the craft of Dale Ray Phillips yet.

Modern southern gothic in the sense of Flannery O'Connor & James Dickey but classically its own.

True that I've painted houses with Dale Ray and we've put fish on the table many a time, but do yourself a favor and sit back with My People's Walz and feel the beat.

I tracked down this novel-in-stories in a used bookstore in Arkansas, and I'm glad I did. Dale Ray Phillips has only published this collection, and it came out in 1999. I know many people are anxiously awaiting his next book. Count me among them.
Jun 25, 2007 Danna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
An astonishing collection of ten linked stories. If you're a writer, you'd sell your soul to be able to write sentences like these, and whatever else you have left over, to make a reader love these characters as much as you will.
loved the descriptions of people and places and the aches and the generational mapping of love and ache. it seemed all genuine, not mere stereotypes of southerners and poor people problems.
Great characterization, lyrical, lovely prose. Memorable and good.
Bill Hughes
Great collection of short stories written by my childhood friend.
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