Lies Of The Saints

( 2 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McGraw (Bodies at Sea) is a master creator of oddball yet always believable characters. This collection of quirky narratives teems with endearing misfits and the slightly skewed communication with which people slide past each other's meanings. In "The Return of the Argentine Tango Masters," deejay Gwen's ex-husband repeatedly calls into her radio show and gains public sympathy, to the dismay of both Gwen and her current spouse. In "A Suburban Story," a mother is celebrated for having performed a modern-day miracle by making endless sandwiches with only two loaves of bread and a small ham, but her husband and children only see the event in terms of how it interrupts their own lives. The last three stories follow the same Catholic family: in 1958, mother "Mary Grace" is jealous of her son's French tutor, a young woman who works in her husband Russ's office; in 1968, pious youngest daughter "Saint Tracy" loves her rosary and the dog her father has bought her, which falls ill; and in 1991, Russ has died and, after Mary Grace recklessly purchases a piano, her granddaughter "Kate" shows up unexpectedly, a fugitive from a music conservatory. These stories lack some of the lightness of the earlier ones, but they compensate with a rich understanding of familial relations.
Library Journal
McGraw (Bodies at Sea, Univ. of Illinois, 1989) offers nine short stories about relationships between men and women in contemporary suburban America. The characters are misfits, alcoholics, people in unhappy marriages, people with worries about parents and children; the characters and situations are authentic, and the stories are both melancholic and humorous. Iris, in "A Suburban Story," re-creates the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, to the consternation and embarrassment of herself and her family. The final three stories are related, centering on Mary Grace, in 1958 a young mother, in 1968 an older mother, and finally in 1991 a widow. In each we see the worries, misunderstandings, and family tensions that affect a basically good and well-meaning woman.
-- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield College Library, Mcminnville, Oregon
Kirkus Reviews

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 fiction—divorce, 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811813150
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 6/19/1996
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,543,283
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Table of Contents

The Return of the Argentine Tango Masters 1
A Suburban Story 22
Blue Skies 43
Rich 68
Her Father's House 89
Stars 111
Mary Grace 136
Saint Tracy 157
Russ 177
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2002

    Inspiring Fiction

    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.

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    Posted October 10, 2009

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