Silent Retreats [NOOK Book]

Overview

Caught in the muddle of modern life, eyes gazing at the middle distance, the characters in Silent Retreats search, down roads paved by custom and dotted by the absurd, for escape, refuge, or, at least, merciful diversion.


Many of the men in Philip Deaver's stories, having drifted out of their native Illinois to the far corners, find comfort from empty jobs and blank relationships in healing, often hilarious, seductions. In "Why I Shacked Up With Martha" a distracted DC ...

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Silent Retreats

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Overview

Caught in the muddle of modern life, eyes gazing at the middle distance, the characters in Silent Retreats search, down roads paved by custom and dotted by the absurd, for escape, refuge, or, at least, merciful diversion.


Many of the men in Philip Deaver's stories, having drifted out of their native Illinois to the far corners, find comfort from empty jobs and blank relationships in healing, often hilarious, seductions. In "Why I Shacked Up With Martha" a distracted DC executive pierces the gray blur of his glass box on Dupont Circle with illicit, painfully superficial notes passed to his beautiful, liberated coworker. In "Marguerite Howe," a businessman from Texas at a cocktail party in New Haven accosts his hostess, blindly convinced that she is the woman of his college day-dreams at the University of Virginia. And, in Nebraska, a defeated legal aid attorney escapes the cold wind of failure and a near suicidal woman in the deep warmth of "Fiona's Rooms."


Other characters, still within the radius of central Illinois, tread through the familiar scenery of the past, measuring with landmarks of memory the distance, and yet the circularity, time has wrought in their lives. In the title story, Martin Wolf--overcome with tears during the morning commute and craving connection and the cleansing rituals of his Catholic youth--learns from the words of a parish priest, crackling through the lines of a pay phone as cars screech by on Roosevelt Road, that silence has become self-indulgent. And in "Infield," Carl Landen savors the well-ordered tableau of the Pony League diamond where he played shortstop and where his son now plays that position. Recalling the ache in the shoulder after an overhand throw, seeing in his mind the figure of his father intruding at the edge of the field, he relaxes the pain of generations, the soreness that comes from knowing a town too well.


A well-known theme of Philip Deaver's stories is "what happened to men after what happened to women." The stories in Silent Retreats trace the tentative journeys of men as they redefine who they are in a changed world while still coping with memory and desire in the old ways. Above all, these stories chronicle a search for absolution--for the elusive freedom lurking among the very syllables of the word.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Self-conscious men and tough women inhabit the highways and small towns of Deaver's mainly Midwestern landscape. A lapsed Catholic experiencing a mid-life crisis learns in the title story that church retreats have become encounter groups; a macho computer analyst fantasizes about the office feminist in ``Why I Shacked Up with Martha''; a cowgirl drifter hides behind theatrical eye make-up and her ambitions as a writer in ``Fiona's Rooms''; and brazenly sexy, country hick Rhonda strings along the faceless adolescent narrator in ``Arcola Girls.'' Permeated with finely crafted writing, grounded in the solidity of objects and places realized through well-textured description and resonant dialogue, this debut (winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) makes a wise, quietly provocative statement about commonplace tragedy and the ironies and fragility of relationships. Most intriguing are the subtle connections that emerge as recurrent characters combat lossdeparted lovers; quick, pointless death by carwith various, always frustrated retreats from the communal realities of their lives. Less successful, however, is the dramatic integrity of the pieces in isolation. Though the stories accrue power in retrospect, individually they suffer from loose structure that sometimes makes them waver and lose direction. (May)
From the Publisher

"Written in vivid, spare prose, the best of these stories linger, sad and profound, like songs you sing to yourself.”--New York Times

"Permeated with finely crafted writing, grounded in the solidity of objects and places realized through well-textured description and resonant dialogue, this debut makes a wise, quietly provocative statement about commonplace tragedy and the ironies and fragility of relationships."--Publishers Weekly

"Like all good fiction, the stories in this first collection are true. . . . The language, especially the dialogue, is clean and well-lit; the narration is seemly. This is a fine debut."--Virginia Quarterly Review

“Deaver offers yet another snapshot of the chasm that yawns between Christianity and Christendom in Silent Retreats."--Books and Religion

"A triumph . . . a noteworthy introduction."--Kirkus Reviews

"The style of these eleven stories is rich—full of talk, imagery, and wit."--Choice

"This collection . . . is quite impressive."--Chicago Tribune

"Deaver's Silent Retreats is a collection of deeply felt stories, rooted in the American landscape."--San Francisco Review

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Philip F. Deaver has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Bread Loaf. His short fiction has appeared in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards 1988 and has been recognized in Best American Short Stories 1995 and The Pushcart Prize XX. Deaver teaches in the English Department at Rollins College and is permanent writer in residence there. He is also on the fiction faculty in the Spalding University brief residency MFA program.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2000

    Oprah for the opposite sex

    Philip F. Deaver is a master of writing fiction that will change the lives of women and men. Each story stands alone in telling what men feel and experience in ways probably all men wish they could. Women who say to their men, 'What are you thinking?' or 'How does that make you feel?' ought to read this book. Then they'd have an idea. Men are complex, not always tough, funny in even the most desperate of situations, and thinkers. Deaver gives us a rare, self-effaced male point of view, a glimpse into the male psyche. Not every man can say how it feels, but Deaver can and does in the most astounding, touching way. Not that his stories are sappy, emotional rides, they certainly are not. They are timeless short stories, masterfully written, a great way to spend precious hours. I can't wait to review Deaver's next book. Who is this guy, anyway?!

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