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Praying to a Laughing God: A Novel Paperback – August 13, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416572759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416572756
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,669,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As a mystery novel, McColley's adult fiction debut (he's the author of several young-adult novels) is a slow, static affair. But as a character study about the difficulties of dealing with old age, there's more than enough finely wrought, heartfelt writing to hold a reader's interest. Clark Holstrom's quiet retirement in rural Credibull, Minn., is threatened when a famous true-crime writer reopens the unsolved murder case in which Clark's best friend, Maynard, was once a suspect. At the same time, Maynard's wife dies and stroke-induced senility puts Maynard in the same nursing home where Clark's wife, Nora, lies in a deep coma. Clark has a lot about which to be depressed: his friend's misfortunes; the failure of his middle-aged son, who inherited the family hardware store; and his stale marriage to Nora. To assuage his pain, he stumbles into an affair with an elderly, artistic widow who cheers him up, but even this bit of good luck backfires when Clark deceives her about Nora's condition and then tries to introduce her to his son. The murder puzzle is resolved with a surprise at the end, but what makes this novel work are the fine characterizations and the author's realistic portrayal of old age.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A YA author (Switch, 1997, etc.) crosses over into adult fiction with a richly told tale of a buried crime in tiny Credibull, Minnesota. The story opens on the bench of the feedstore with the amusing crosstalk of best friends Maynard Tewle, 78, and Clark Holstrom, 72, as they chew over a local burglar's having stolen a VCR. Maynard complains that ``People don't give a damn about nothing no more.'' Well, the townsfolk have clearly forgiven Maynard for apparently having murdered Albert Wilson with a hammer some 30 years ago. The old man still maintains his innocenceafter all, though nobody was ever tried, everyone in town knows that a crazy, lusty Catholic priest, Father Kenneth Callahan, confessed to the killing on his deathbed. Now, however, a true-crime writer from Chicago, Ted Lewell, thinks he knows something about that long-ago case and turns up in Credibull to research a book about the true culprit. Meanwhile, Clark Holstrom's wife Nora lies dying in a nursing home, having lost both legs to frostbite when she slipped in the middle of winter while taking out the garbage and was only found much later, unconscious. Comatose Nora hasn't spoken for a year, although Clark detects a peculiar glint in her eye as it stares past him. Along with this, Clark, who spends much of his time caring for the historical society's museum, has turned his hardware store over to his overweight, bald, bumbling son Walter, who tells his dad that business is hopping. Clark knows, though, that Walter is a poor businessman and suspects he may be sinking the store with inept management as he tries to fight the newly opened Wal-Mart by creating a computer section. Eventually, Lewell drives the already none-too-stable Maynard around the bend, convincing him that he's in fact the guilty party, even though the wise reader suspects otherwise. As funny and sinister as the Coens' take on Minnesota in Fargo. Well done, indeed. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
True crime writer Ted Lewell arrives in the small town of Credibull, Minnesota, researching his next effort: the real story behind the murder of Albert Wilson, who was killed almost four decades ago. When septagenariun Clark Holstrom learns what the famous author plans to do, he begins to worry about how this will affect his ailing friend, Maynard Tewle, a person who many townsfolk believe actually committed the murder. However, the state could never prove its case....
The who-done-it aspects of PRAYING TO A LAUGHING GOD are somewhat interesting, but are overwhelmed by the more poignant and brilliantly described harsh realities of aging. The characters are first rate and Kevin McColley, a renowned writer of young adult fiction, has gracefully moved into the adult world with this passionate, sentimental, and very melancholy ode to old age.
Harriet Klausner
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a 32-year-old woman, at first I had a hard time getting into the main character (a 72-year-old man), but I kept going. The problem then became that the first half of this book was un-remittingly bleak. The writing is good and the plot becomes interesting or I would not have hung in there. A little light is introduced...but (I don't want to spoil the plot) it ends up being undeserved and that is the greatest frustration of all. Perhaps the author thought the point was that anyone can change but the ending seems to show that they haven't changed, or at least not enough.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 8, 1998
Format: Hardcover
At the end of the book, it didn't matter anymore who committed the crime - you had finally reached the end of a long, drawn out story about a murder.
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