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Lies of the Saints Paperback – April 1, 1996
The Amazon Book Review
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Marriage and parenthood, "grubby and desperate," are explored in nine short stories by Erin McGraw. With characters both good-natured and reckless, she paints a realistic, albeit difficult, picture of transcending everyday mishaps and difficult relations through perseverance and marital affection. From Gwen, the newly re-married radio talk-show host whose charming ex tries to woo her on the air, to the Neills whose tough times with money troubles, a wild-hormoned teenage son, an unwanted pregnancy, and looming infidelity challenge their commitment. For all the trials and mistakes her characters endure, they manage to keep stumbling into happiness. And this, as McGraw illustrates, is what makes family life so enticing.
From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I really don't think there is a lot to be gained from this book. I found the plots extremely weak, the characters who people it to be shallow and in the end I can't say I felt moved by the themes within it that evolved up to one last story about life after loss. McGraw did have one decent short story here but the sadness of a plot that concerns a blind dog isn't much of a legacy to go on. She even kills off (not a spoiler to reveal that) the one decent person in the collection, the dad of this late-twentieth-century Catholic clan. She also can't seem to decide whether she wants this anthology to be about life's tortured mundane side or the miraculous that she hints lies waiting to appear at random moments. (The loaves an fishes story set in a suburban kitchen seemed just silly to me.)
Maybe I'm being too hard on Erin McGraw but this collection truly bothered me by being a rare literary waste of time.
It's dumb, base and so very Hemingway of me, but; when reading her stuff, I think about bullfighting. What's up with that? Read this book and tell me. I want to know.