Miss Gladys and the Pit Bull Barracuda

The Miss Gladys of Dave Kilbourne’s delightful collection of 35 loosely autobiographical stories is Gladys Mae Kilbourne, the author’s “Sainted Mother” and the main character in the title story. It’s about the time she competed—most reluctantly—in the Georgetown (S.C.) Fishing Rodeo and took home the first-place ribbon after catching a barracuda that (the author insists) weighed more than she did. A photo of her and her then 10-year-old son on their boat graces the cover. Eventually the author grew up, moved around a lot and did a bunch of different jobs, from fire lookout to swamp-snake exterminator, before landing in Chico. There he opened a candle store with his “previous, first, ex and only wife, Nancy Lynne Quiggle,” and later found his cherished spot in the Church of the Holy Nectar, aka the Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant, “back by the pizza oven,” where he composed these pretty tall tales that he swears are mostly true. What they are is mostly funny and sometimes downright hilarious. Kilbourne is a Southern humorist in the tradition of Mark Twain, Roy Blount Jr. and Dave Barry, which is to say he’s not afraid to make stuff up if it suits his comedic purpose. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and quietly chuckled pretty much all the way through.

The author will appear at Lyon Books Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m.