Stephen Dixon

What Is All This? Uncollected Stories

Published by Fantagraphics

Jul 10, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer Bookmark and Share


Stephen Dixon has a gift for revealing mundane environments as vibrant social microcosms. With that, it seems almost apropos that Dixon's flown under the radar commercially for decades, though he's always garnered respect in literary circles. There's a refreshing clarity to Dixon's vision, and his main character has an eye for minutiae that can lead to his being saddled with a nagging hang-up that overwhelms practically all other conscious thought, while at other times we're just following the progress of some basic quest (frankly observed sex, for example).

What makes these peeks into a day-to-day existence interesting, and sometimes fascinating, is Dixon's ability to spotlight something that few others would notice and grant it a stature of central focus. When a man has to continually kneel to tie and re-tie his overweight wife's shoes while on a walk, he perceives a shifting of societal roles in which passersby recast him in a position of deference.

When these stories are usually the musings of a solitary figure, Dixon makes him quietly noble, often amusing, and never pitiable. We rarely envy that character but a common ground is always only a step away, and his little triumphs feel like ours. (www.fantagraphics.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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