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Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha
For a long time now, Edward Falco has quietly established his place among the absolute best American storytellers. Those who haven't yet read him don't want to miss this chance. That's why we're so excited to offer the very best of his work, gathered together for the first time, to a wider readership.
Falco's stories are unforgettable, dangerous as a high-wire act without a net, filled with dramatic action, and peopled with believable characters challenged by events into making risky moral choices, so emotionally true that readers will carry them around for a long time. His prose is tense, sharp, and beautifully, wonderfully rich. In story after story, Falco's characters find the comfortable order of their lives ambushed by an upswelling of dark forces beyond their control. In order to protect the lives of family--lovers, wives, and especially children--from a catastrophe, they often must summon up the personal courage to climb back from their own monsters, to set aside old, private scars. The decisions they make reveal their bonds, the set of their hearts, and the harsh nature of the culture we all live in today.
If someone out there could write the contemporary counterpart to Flannery O'Conoor's classic "A Good Man is Hard to Find," it would be Falco. His are good, old-fashioned, hard-to-find stories set way out there on the edge.
[Falco] draws the attention of a highly literate audience through his graceful use of language...[and] provides any reader with both compelling plots and engrossing characters. In this marvelous collection of short stories, Falco demonstrates the power of the genre when in the hands of a master. The characters in these stories and the situations they find themselves in won't be easily
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April 30, 2005
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Excerpt from Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha by Edward Falco
She couldn't have been more than fifteen. She wore a bright red choker. I was standing several feet away from Vee, at the outer edge of a crowd thickened into a knot of bodies near the front of the stage--which appeared to be about a mile and a half away. I must have looked like a security guard or a bouncer, standing rigid with my arms crossed over my chest, watching the crowd intently, my eyes going back and forth from Vee to the intermittent spectacle of someone lifted up over the throng and passed along on waves of hands until he or she fell, usually headfirst, into a gap in the tight surface of bodies. I'm six-three, 280 pounds, built solid. I've always worked out, since I was a boy in Brooklyn and discovered I could avoid trouble if I looked like only a fool would mess with me. The kids in general were keeping their distance and looking elsewhere--except for this one girl. She stood about eight feet away, her back to the stage; and she looked right through me, the line of her vision crossing my body somewhere about neck level. The way here eyes were focused, it was like I wasn't there, though she couldn't help but see me. She was looking at me. She had short hair, a thin, attractive face, and a lanky body. No breasts to speak of. A black T-shirt with the word HOLE in plain white lettering enclosed in a white circle. Baggy pants she seemed to swim in. A dazed, I'm-not-here look in her eyes.
She stood there silently, her hands thrust deep in the pockets of her baggy pants; and I stood there silently, my arms crossed over my chest. We were two points of silence in a mass of squeals and shouts that coalesced to a hollow din. I had just looked away from her, back toward Vee. I was feeling an uncomfortably familiar anxiety, one I hadn't felt in a while, but had felt almost every waking moment in Vietnam: a pervasive sense of danger somewhere within what I was seeing but invisible to me, as if the source of danger were going to suddenly materialize and I had better be looking in the right place when it did. I couldn't quit staring, searching. When I turned my eyes back toward her, she pushed her baggy pants down to mid-thigh and pulled them up again quickly--and then just remained there staring through me with that lost look. It happened so fast, I wasn't sure it happened at all, but the image burned itself instantly into my permanent memory. She wore black panties that narrowed to strings across her hips and contrasted sharply with her fair skin. The triangle of black fabric was pulled to one side and ran in a dark line down the center of a sunny thatch of blond hair. My mind reacted to the sight like a strip of film. She was both the camera snapping the picture and the picture itself. I registered the image and it remains burned in place to this moment.