Being Dead in South Carolina
stories by Jacob White
Winner, 2012 Leapfrog Fiction Contest
Sad, fierce, and funny, a new take on the South and those who are adrift in a disconnected modern world
“Jacob White can write!.” —Padgett Powell
LOOK. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO RIGHT A CAR YOU YOURSELF HAVE TUMBLBED? I mean, working alongside a few others, rocking the
dumb hulk back and forth in hopes of landing it back upon
its four sound tires? No, of course not. You have no idea. This
is one of those thousand lucky adventures (mark I said lucky)
that one’s idea of life never allows for. Or if it does happen,
your memory won’t know what do with it, with the strange
articulation of stupidity and rebirth that is an overturned car.
It’s the sort of story you expect to tell your asshole friends
years later but never do, never do because you don’t know
what else will come spilling out.
Stories of the modern South, of people who no longer recognize themselves, who have arrived, like the Sunbelt itself, to a strange day that seems disconnected from all the old days, the old stories. Yet it's on this day we must always answer for ourselves—right an overturned car, recover a brother’s body, convince a son of our worth and his.
"White's graceful yet gritty debut collection demonstrates his great grasp of characterization and of life in the South... Collectively, White's assemblage... demonstrates an obvious and impressive love of lanaguage, all woven around the downtrodden layers of humanity in the bucolic South." --Publishers Weekly
“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…. Rebirth by way of consequence is a recurring theme that White depicts precisely. The transformation is not betterment, though. It's bewilderment---an unfamiliar and unwanted distortion of one's identity. The melancholy he elicits is profound, and its impact endures…. Wide-ranging, hauntingly perceptive tales [crafted] with an economy of language.”
“Being Dead in South Carolina is as lively and surprising as the title suggests, and Jacob White writes with style and pile-driver energy and unanticipated grace. This is an exciting debut by a gifted writer.” —Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, The Half-Known World, etc.
“Here's Jacob White with the news that trouble has many hosts and a dozen variations, and often it roosts at home. Being Dead in South Carolina is a wide array of layered stories written with disarming care.”
—Ron Carlson, author of A Kind of Flying and Five Skies
“Jacob White's characters are in trouble, lots of it, and their creator brings them to life with language both lush and harsh, gritty and great. Being Dead in South Carolina seems a lot like the dangerous and beautiful lovechild born of Cormac McCarthy and Eudora Welty, here in 21st century America.”
—Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“Fresh, fierce, sad, funny, deep. The author is a natural story teller, with a voice that is like music… This book sings. It’s real, it’s beautiful.”
—Lev Raphael, author of The German Money
About the Author
A South Carolina native, Jacob White studied creative writing at Binghamton University and the University of Houston, where he received the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Fiction. His fiction has appeared in many journals, including The Georgia Review, New Letters, Salt Hill, and The Sewanee Review, from which he received the Andrew Lytle Prize. “The Days Down Here” from this collection received an Honorable Mention in Best American Short Stories 2009, and three other stories from this collection received Pushcart Prize special mentions. Jacob co-edits the literary journal Green Mountains Review and lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife and son, where he is a lecturer in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College.