Mary O’Connell’s wonderfully inventive debut collection takes dusty icons down from the shelf and sets their spirits loose in the modern world. The result is nothing less than “an extended hagiography of the everyday, written with quiet brio and acid humor, where the sacred and secular blur gloriously into one another” (Los Angeles Times). Praised for her “gift for mordant wit” (The New York Times Book Review), O’Connell draws upon the lives of the saints to show the divine at work in even the most mundane lives. From the ineffable bonds between fellow sufferers of grave illness, to the mystery of an immaculate pregnancy, to the more quotidian heartbreak of balancing work and motherhood, O’Connell’s stories tackle complicated themes with humor that is “biting but never malicious” (Library Journal). Readers of all faiths (or none) will be delighted by these savvy and highly original modern visitations.
Mary O’Connell’s wonderfully inventive story collection does no less than retell the lives of the saints (women saints, in particular) and, miraculously, it does so without a hint of incense or guilt. . . . Living with Saints is an extended hagiography of the everyday, written with quiet brio and acid humor, where the sacred and secular blur gloriously into one another. . . . Smart, devout and blasphemous, Living with Saints reminds us that we ‘are entertaining the angels, unawares.
―Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times
[O’Connell’s] dazzling first collection of short stories is both ancient and modern, sacred and profane. O’Connell resurrects [the Saints] as they have never been seen before, puts them in a modern setting and in the process provides a clue to the spiritual potentialities of human life.
―Peter Stanford, The Independent on Sunday
Clever, confident and witty…a collection of au courant tales that still manage to emanate a kind of energetic, if bemused reverence and awe at the power of faith in the face of suffering.
―The Chicago Tribune
O’Connell has an uncanny ear for dialogue and an otherworldly communion with the hearts and minds of adolescent girls in particular. Traditionalists may be shocked, but everyone else (nonreligious readers included) will be delighted with these well-crafted, inventive and highly original modern-day visitations.
[A] powerhouse debut collection… Living with Saints is funny, shocking and inspirational-a regular book of revelations.
―Camille Cauti, Time Out New York
A gripping, cleverly conceived debut collection…whether you’re religious or not, these stories resonate in their profound search for meaning. A fine debut collection painting a morally complex world.
―Chuck Leddy, Bookreporter.com
It is hard to believe that this is the author’s first published collection. Her offbeat language is precisely aimed. . . . Various journeys towards enlightenment and apotheosis are not only sinfully funny but curiously uplifting.
―Aisling Foster, Times Literary Supplement
O’Connell’s beautifully surreal and irreverent stories are steeped in spirituality.
The Pope may create new saints, but Mary O’Connell proves that there’s plenty of life in the old ones yet.
―Marianne Brace, The Independent
Ten divine stories, and beautifully written. Restore your faith in the short story with this funny, gentle, tough and powerful collection.
O’Connell’s saints know when to claim, often militantly, the rightful inheritance of the wronged. That’s the brilliance of her stories, and that is what they invite the reader to rethink, to reclaim, relive.
―Mary DiLucia, Commonweal
The writing is racy and ribald—laugh-out-loud David Sedaris funny. . . . O’Connell has an uncanny ability to write young women well, and her dialogue is quick and authentic. O’Connell’s voice is inarguably refreshing in its honesty and absolutely pure in the truth as she sees it.
―Molly Ringwald, Hartford Courant