The Kind of Things Saints Do
“The seven stories of Valeri’s energetic debut collection range far and wide in their examination of the ins and outs of love and affection.”—Publisher's Weekly
“The level of skill evident in this short story collection is extraordinary. Valeri rips through these pages with a fearless display of raw emotion. . . . No one is excluded from her compassionate, generous vision. This collection won the 2002 John Simmons Short Fiction Award.”—Booklist
“I believe that what people yearn for in love is to have their lives made numinous by the immortal vision of their gods,” writes Laura Valeri, winner of the 2002 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. The yearning desires, stifling limitations, and hard consequences of human affection are all realities explored in The Kind of Things Saints Do, Valeri's chronicle of men and women overwhelmed in their loneliness and isolation.
From the Anglo-American woman who makes a spectacle of herself trying to be Cuban in Miami to the estranged son leading his father on a hostile hike in New Mexico, Valeri's characters carry a heavy load of desire and anger. Proud, loud, and hungry for whatever comes next, each person desperately searches for an understanding that lessens his or her burden. The saints here are pure only in their anger, desperation, and desire to be loved, holy only in their quest to keep going.
These stories grow through subtle shifts—the bad becomes not so bad, the worst livable. It is the saintly moments of unexpected understanding that shape the collection: one gigolo's lover picks up another at a bus stop and they agree on his worthlessness, the love-worn man reminds the newly divorced woman of her physical power, the estranged son shelters his father from an unexpected storm.
Valeri navigates the reader through the bones and scars of those who ache with wanting something else and become a little older and a little wiser for it. The Kind of Things Saints Do is a collection of human imperfections and missed connections that grows into a kaleidoscope of aspiration and hope.