Lies Of The Saintsby Erin Mcgraw
A radio talk show host's ratings soar, but her confidence falters when her sexy ex-husband unexpectedly becomes a regular caller; a man calls off his wedding when he thinks he has won $13 million in the lottery, only to discover the winning ticket was a practical joke; and in three related stories, "Lies of the Saints", we follow the tangles of piety and cynicism, the… See more details below
A radio talk show host's ratings soar, but her confidence falters when her sexy ex-husband unexpectedly becomes a regular caller; a man calls off his wedding when he thinks he has won $13 million in the lottery, only to discover the winning ticket was a practical joke; and in three related stories, "Lies of the Saints", we follow the tangles of piety and cynicism, the loves and deceptions of the Neill family over thirty years. These poignant, darkly funny stories interweave the extraordinary and the familiar to show us our lives as we should have seen them all along.
-- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield College Library, Mcminnville, Oregon
A first collection that displays a sure hand and an even voice busily at work documenting the struggles of regular people trying to lead ordinary lives. At her best, McGraw encourages us to see sainthood in its human context, relevant to the most mundane experiences.
Two of these nine stories have appeared in The Atlantic, others in small magazines, and most of them concern the stuff of domestic fictiondivorce, alcoholism, children. In "The Return of the Argentine Tango Masters," an ex-husband arrives back in town to make things difficult for his remarried former wife, winning over her radio talk show audience with his smooth talk. A marriage gets off to a rocky start when the restaurateur of "Rich" is fooled at his engagement party into thinking he's won the lottery and decides on the spot to cancel his wedding, a mistake from which the eventual marriage seems incapable of recovering. Less plausibly, the young divorced woman in "Her Father's House," a lifelong teetotaler, takes up drinking with a vengeance when her alcoholic father dies. "A Suburban Story" veers into the fantastical when a harried housewife is reported to have performed a miracle at a local clinic, even though her home life is in total disarray. This flirtation with saintliness emerges fully in the strongest part of the book, a triptych of related stories about a large Irish Catholic family, first seen through its mother, Mary Grace, who at 39, with five kids, begins to feel useless, old, and unappreciated. Ten years later, her daughter, the rosary-lusting 11-year-old Tracy, loses faith over the fate of her distemper- afflicted puppy. The last portrait, of a widowed Mary Grace many years later, finds her in conflict with her grown children over who had the firmer "grip on holiness" in her family.
Without rancor, these poignant moral tales gently go beyond most family fiction; they would merit our attention even if that were their only distinction.
- Chronicle Books LLC
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- 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.48(d)
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Lies of the Saints was recommended to me by a fellow writer, a teacher of fiction at a nearby university. What a fine collection of short stories, emerging from the day to day occurrences of people like me, it seems. Husbands and wives quarrel and tangle, yet stay together; ex-wives and ex-husbands continue to drink from the wells of their discontent, yet continue to search for deeper meaning; somewhere in all of this God is at work, mostly in surprising ways. I was reminded of Flannery O'Connor's masterful short stories here. I'm looking forward to reading more.