Pieces: A Composite Novel

Pieces: A Composite Novel

by Mary Ann McGuigan

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Overview

Pieces: A Composite Novel by Mary Ann McGuigan


The sixteen linked stories in Mary Ann McGuigan's novel PIECES trace the effects of domestic abuse on a large Irish-American family from 1955 to 2008. McGuigan brings to life not only her primary protagonist, Moira Donnegan, but also Moira's parents, her six siblings, her nephews and nieces, and her husband and children. It is a daunting task to take on such a large cast of characters and multiple points of view and write without melodrama about such subjects as alcoholism and physical and emotional abuse, but McGuigan more than meets the challenge. Each of her characters is distinct and vividly conveyed, and each of her stories expands the significance of the others. By the time you finish the novel, you'll feel like you're one of the family too and you'll celebrate the way they triumph over the dark inheritance of their patriarch's abuse. You will also celebrate McGuigan's masterly storytelling. To say that she is an extraordinarily gifted writer is an understatement, like saying Mount Everest would make a pretty good speed bump. This is a book no lover of fiction should miss. -David Jauss

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781947504035
Publisher: Bottom Dog Press
Publication date: 12/04/2017
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)

About the Author


Mary Ann McGuigan was born in the Bronx, New York, and knows the joys and perils of growing up in a large Irish Catholic family. After graduating from St. Peter's University, she taught English but spent most of her career as a financial editor, mainly for Bloomberg L.P.

Her short stories--nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Publications' Best of the Net--have appeared in North American Review, The Sun, Prime Number, Grist, Perigee, Into the Void, and many other literary journals. Her articles and essays have been published in Word Riot, New York Times, New York Sunday Newsday, Bloomberg Markets magazine, and elsewhere.

The New York Public Library, the Junior Library Guild, and the Paterson Prize have ranked Mary Ann's four young-adult novels among the best books for teens, and she has served on the panel of judges for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Where You Belong, her second novel, was a finalist for the National Book Award.



She now lives in Metuchen, New Jersey

Read an Excerpt


SUFFER THE CHILDREN

1986



Her son is snuggling against his grandfather on the couch. That's all. Just resting on the old man's shoulder,his forehead against his frayed collar. Michael looks tired,sweaty. There's color high in his cheeks, as if he's just come in from play. The sliding glass door is slightly open,

and Moira can hear her father singing to him, something low, soft, painfully familiar. His knee moves up and down in steady cadence with the song. Eyes closed, they seem lost in each other's comfort. She tries to swallow, but it

tastes like acid, so she spits into the grass.

She turns and walks back to the front of the house,nails pressed into the skin of her palms, and lets herself into Bridget's kitchen. She keeps her voice down, her tone nearly reasonable. "I thought I told you I didn't want him near the boys."

Her sister turns off the faucet and dries her hands on a towel. "What's the problem? Michael's crazy about him." Their father is blind, has been for years, but Moira wonders if Bridget picked the towel to please him, because it's covered with shamrocks. She's been inclined to come to his defense lately, reminiscing about how he used to make them laugh, tell scary stories, play

make-believe. He'd be the grumpy store proprietor,

claiming to be out of every item they asked him for.

Moira drops her shoulder bag onto a kitchen chair

with a sudden thud. "That's nonsense. He's something different, that's all. The stories, the odd expressions. Where's Sean?"

"I'm telling you he hangs on his every word."

"Yeah, because he's a walking encyclopedia of

baseball trivia." She spots Michael's schoolbooks on the counter and crosses the room to gather them up. "Where is Sean?"

"Upstairs with Cathy. Doing homework."

When her father moved in with her a few months

ago, she tried taking walks with him, telling him about her scholarships, her first teaching job. She wanted to connect. That was the plan. He answered in nods and grunts, offered nothing in return but tired stories about drinking with his brothers and getting thrown out of taverns for brawling. In the yard one afternoon, when

the boys were washing the dog, she put her arm around him, an impulsive gesture that made her chest tighten.

She'd just finished telling him about how hard it was to adjust when she was away at college, until she found cover with a small circle of friends, fellow misfits. She thought he'd understand. He'd talked many times about how alone he felt when he arrived in New York as a boy, his mother still in Derry. His uncle rarely spoke to him. He showed him the cot he'd sleep on and went off to work. But her father only laughed at her confessions, in a way that made her feel exposed. "You were one of those hippie types, I bet." He was almost

growling. "Peace and love and all the rest of the easy answers."

"Is it really so bad if Michael likes him?" Bridget is blocking Moira's way, standing close to her. She tucks a strand of her sister's hair behind her ear, the way she did when they were girls, when she was left in charge while their mother worked. "Isn't that what you wanted

to begin with?"

Moira steps away from her. The tension in her jaw spreads down her neck, tightening her muscles,

because what she wanted can't be spoken, can't be

acknowledged without admitting what a fool she was

to think she'd get it. After the blow-up with Sean, she told her father to leave. As she helped him pack, she thought he'd try to explain, persuade her to let him stay. But he didn't. He was as sullen as a teenager.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

WITNESS, 1986 (1955) ..................................................... 11

SHELTER, 1958 ................................................................. 19

SONG, 1960 .................................................................... 29

HOME FRONT, 1983 ......................................................... 41

THE SNOW FORT, 1984 .................................................... 53

UNDERTOW, 1984 ............................................................ 67

ASYLUM, 1985 ................................................................. 79

TO EXPRESS HOW MUCH, 1986 ........................................ 93

SUFFER THE CHILDREN, 1986 ............................................ 109

A MATTER UNSETTLED, 1986 ........................................... 121

LAST RITES, 1988 ............................................................ 135

ASUNDER, 1989 .............................................................. 149

INTERCESSION, 1993 ......................................................... 163

HOLY NIGHT, 2000 ......................................................... 185

THE KILN, 2005 .............................................................. 197

A WAKE FOR MAGGIE FAGAN, 2008 ................................ 219

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ......................................................... 247

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