Flights of Angels: Stories


Described by "Publishers Weekly" as "easily Gilchrist's best book in years, " this collection of stories gives readers a taste of her gifted sense of the language and the humor of human foibles.

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Described by "Publishers Weekly" as "easily Gilchrist's best book in years, " this collection of stories gives readers a taste of her gifted sense of the language and the humor of human foibles.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316002301
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Flights of Angels

By Ellen Gilchrist

Back Bay Books

Copyright © 1999 Ellen Gilchrist
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-00230-5


Six months before he died he told his daughter that he had not wanted to remarry her mother. He was brushing his teeth while he told her. She liked to watch him brush his teeth. He was so efficient, so dedicated, so determined.

"I did it to save the children," he said. "I came back to save the children."

"You gave up the mistress to save what children?" the daughter asked.

"To save Juliet. She was running around with the wrong crowd. She was going out with a black."

"So you tore up the life Mother was making for herself and made her marry you again to save Juliet?"

"Had to do it. Had to stop that." He was flossing now. He had been the first person she knew who used dental floss. It had been given to him by the pathological dentist who had ruined all their teeth in the sixties.

The old man was eighty-eight when this conversation took place. The year after he lost all the money. The year before they took his car away and then his gun. He had had at one time almost twenty million dollars but he had lost it all. He had lost it by believing in his sons. Or else, he had lost it by being afraid to invest in the markets, by being afraid of the contemporary world, by being a racist and a misogynist and becoming an old man. His father had died a pauper and now he was about to die one too. Except for Social Security, a government program he would have ended if he could have. He had given at least one of his millions of dollars to the right wing of the Republican party. Now he was being taken care of by Social Security and Medicare. He saw the irony. What he could not see was how the weak destroy the strong within a family as well as in larger worlds. This happens in every family. It is as inevitable as the sun and rain. All the daughter wanted to know was how to keep it from happening to her.


Excerpted from Flights of Angels by Ellen Gilchrist Copyright © 1999 by Ellen Gilchrist. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Compared to her earlier works, how has Gilchrist's approach to race developed and changed? Does this development parallel what has changed in American society over the past two decades?

2. While Gilchrist has stated over and over in various interviews that she is only a story teller, various moral themes are persistent in her work. Examining this collection of stories, what does she seem to indicate is the cost of love? Who owes what to whom, emotionally? And how much? Can emotional debts ever be paid?

3. Examine how Gilchrist uses scienc--particularly physics and astrophysics--in her stories. Is her use of science in any way comparable to how 19th century writers used religion?

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