No Lie Like Love

Overview

A shady financier visits his small hometown, a middle-aged divorce emerges from a life of drastic austerity and self-denial, a sick and dying professor discovers the healing touch of a former student. From the South African veld to the barren Utah desert, from the green lawns of suburbia to moonlit Pueblo ruins, the people in Paul Rawlins's debut story collection brave the Big Questions about relationships, love, and death, finding more often than not that their ability to just get by is not enough. Asking for ...
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Overview

A shady financier visits his small hometown, a middle-aged divorce emerges from a life of drastic austerity and self-denial, a sick and dying professor discovers the healing touch of a former student. From the South African veld to the barren Utah desert, from the green lawns of suburbia to moonlit Pueblo ruins, the people in Paul Rawlins's debut story collection brave the Big Questions about relationships, love, and death, finding more often than not that their ability to just get by is not enough. Asking for truth or understanding, but hoping the answers will be simple, they struggle with feelings often too deep, too new, too disquieting to articulate. The voices we hear most often belong to men - good men who have somehow come up short on love, answers, peace, time. But like the alkali flats in "Good for What Ails You," transformed by flash-flooding into an inland sea, Rawlins's characters show themselves capable of quick and fundamental change. Farmers and soldiers, athletes and scholars, rebels and high rollers, they fit our preconceptions only in the shallowest sense. In the ways they connect with Rawlins's elemental imagery - sun, water, earth - these people play with our essential notions about men and women as they surprise themselves about their strengths, about what they really desire and what others desire in them.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Characters in this debut collection, which earned the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, discover unknown strengths and reservoirs of wisdom after passing through heartache, illness, loneliness and loss. In 11 impeccably crafted, understated stories, Rawlins establishes as his home turf the psyche of the common man, though he expands the category to include a young Afrikaner pondering marriage on a remote South African farm, an HIV-positive teen, a mysteriously ailing college professor seeking a cure in New Mexico and an ex-junkie nursing a heartache in his half-brother's living room. All of Rawlins's characters face their personal demons and an unkind Providence with a flinty, desperate determination. "Self-pity isn't an altogether useless emotion. It's something to allow yourself when there's nobody else around, an indulgence, a reward for a day's fronted pleasantness," muses the dying college professor in "Kokopelli." The most resonant pieces are the genuinely affecting "Big Texas," in which a football player recently forced into retirement forges an unlikely but sustaining three-way friendship with his best friend and his best friend's wife, for whom he carries a sizable torch; and "Home and Family," in which a middle-aged man finds he can cope with a recent layoff and divorce in his own dignified, albeit eccentric, manner. Thanks to the author's fine eye for detail and his elegantly plain prose, the stories, even when they fail to gel thematically, are still evocative and memorable. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Rawlins's first collection of short stories, set mostly in the American West, won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. Whether young, like the Washington farmboy who can't wait to escape his small town in the title story, or prematurely old, like the 37-year-old bachelor who lives with his father in "Still Life with Father," each character describes a restless life. Women come and go as fast as hard-earned dollars slipping from one's fingers on a Saturday night. Happiness is defined as a fresh start in a new town. The ten stories in this collection are well crafted and written in a straightforward, readable manner; Rawlins is particularly good with dialog, which flows easily and sounds natural. Still, this doesn't quite make up for the noticeable lack of strong visual imagery and differences in mood in his stories. The portrayals of working men lost in a postindustrial world ring true, but the characters inspire only pity and irritation as they muddle through their misguided lives with no forethought or understanding. The morose and monotonous tone of the writing is exhausting, and it would be hard to offer this book to any reader. Not recommended.-Charlotte L. Glover, Ketchikan P.L., Ketchikan, Ak.
From the Publisher

“Downbeat and filled with a yearning for the transforming power of love, these quiet, accomplished stories overflow with compassion.”—Booklist

“In eleven impeccably crafted, understated stories, Rawlins establishes as his home turf the psyche of the common man.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Paul Rawlins' fiction appeared in Glimmer Train, Southeast Review, Sycamore Review, Tampa Review, and Prism. He lives in Salt Lake City.
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Table of Contents

No Lie Like Love 1
Big Texas 14
The Matter of These Hours 31
Big Where I Come From 44
August - Staying Cool 54
Home and Family 69
Good for What Ails You 84
Slangfontein 98
Still Life with Father 120
Boys 128
Kokopelli 144
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