Brain Fever: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3569.A94B73 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Something old and something new mark Sayers's fifth novel (after The Distance Between Us), which will, sadly, leave most readers blue. Here, Sayers takes leave of Due East, S.C., the setting of her previous novels, but revisits schizophrenic Tim Rooney, the aging philosophy professor of How I Got Him Back. When narrator Rooney's 27-year-old girlfriend, Baptist-turned-atheist Mary Faith Rapple, insists on marrying him in a Catholic church, Rooney panics and heads for New York City in search of his first wife. Driving his father's car and fighting for sanity, the fugitive encounters Angela, a blonde hitchhiker fleeing her own date at the altar. With Rooney in the throes of a nervous breakdown, the pair wind up in an upscale Soho loft, house guests of artsy S.C. expatriates. As he roams the city in a sometimes hallucinatory state, Rooney meets a former student, finds his ex-wife and suffers a succession of burlesque sexual failures. Meanwhile, at the insistence of Due East's aging Catholic priest, Mary Faith heads north to save her lover. Sayers's prose is bracing as always here.
Franny Starkey has been breaking men’s hears since she was a teenager in Due East, South Carolina. Now a married mother of three, she no longer turns heads the way she used to. Michael, her drug-dependent playwright husband, cannot forget the excitement of their gun-running honeymoon in Ireland. Sayers creates an engaging novel that follows Franny’s path from her early, poverty-ridden days to her hedonistic college life to her longings for an artistic career while changing diapers in a Brooklyn apartment. The constant in her life is Steward Morehouse, a well-to-do nerd from Due East, who loves Franny. When Stewart and Michael collaborate on a play, the lives of these three become more complicated than Franny could have imagined. Sayers gracefully weaves all of this into a cohesive and compelling tale.
Due East: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3569.A94D8 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Mary Faith Rapple is smart, pretty in a rangy, gray-eyed sort of way—and very definitely pregnant. Not an unusual occurrence in the sleepy town of Due East, South Carolina. But when Mary faith announces that she will have a virgin birth and her father, Jesse Rapple, owner of the Plaid King filling station, vows to uncover the truth, the sparks begin to fly. Spirited, evocative, and utterly delightful, this brilliant novel by Valerie Sayers explores the love and loneliness, the hopes and fears, the unspoken yearnings of the human heart. Due East is a sweet and tender novel. Like Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor, Sayers writers with compassion of lonely characters whose lives are slightly off center, and her best scenes have a fine sense, sharp edge of irony. Her chosen territory is the human heart.
How I Got Him Back: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3569.A94H69 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Mary Faith Rapple wonders when her lover will stop making promise he can’t keep—and leave his wife at last. But Mary Faith isn’t the only woman in town with man troubles, for everyone has someone they want, someone they can’t have, and someone they want to forget. Sayers has a gift for voice and the honest, gritty commentary about human behavior. This book offers her own version of the humor that Southern writers from Eudora Welty to Flannery O’Connor to Reynolds Price use so tellingly. Sayers’ novel is a skillful and well-crafted book which should appeal to readers of intelligent fiction.
The Powers: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3569.A94P69 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
1941 is a year of drama and spectacle for Americans. Joe DiMaggio’s record-breaking hitting streak enlivens the summer, and winter begins with the shock and horror of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The news from Europe is bleak, especially for the Jewish population. Joltin’ Joe, possessing a sweet swing and range in center, also has another gift: he can see the future. And he sees dark times ahead.
In her inventive novel The Powers, Valerie Sayers, in both realistic and fantastic chapters, transports the reader to an age filled with giants: Dorothy Day and Walker Evans appear beside DiMaggio. The problems they face, from Catholic antisemitism to the challenge of pacifism in the face of overwhelming evil, play out in very public media, among them the photography of Evans and the baseball of DiMaggio. At once magical and familiar, The Powers is a story of witness and moral responsibility that will, like Joe DiMaggio, find some unlikely fans.
Who Do You Love: A Novel
Valerie Sayers Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3569.A94W4 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Sayers's gift for delineating family relationships against the microcosm of a small Southern town grows more assured with each novel. This third book to be set in Due East, S.C., focuses on the Irish Catholic Rooney family, outsiders in the community because of their religion. Dolores Rooney's New York origins and her outspoken championing of integration. On the unseasonably warm November day in 1963 during which most of the story takes place, Dolores ruminates over her fifth pregnancy and what it will mean to the family's already shaky finances, and Bill Rooney hopes to sell a prize piece of real estate to help his faltering business, meanwhile thinking bitter thoughts about Dolores's sanctimonious piety and intellectual superiority. Eleven-year-old Kate feels the stirrings of sexuality, and gains some insights from her teenage brothers. And a New York Times reporter whom Dolores brings home to dinner trains a spotlight on their inner lives and sets in motion an event whose implications will reverberate down the years. Then President Kennedy's assassination unites them in terrible grief. Sayers's prose has verve and humor, her view of Southern life is clear-eyed, authentic and generous. Her compassionate understanding of the strains, worries and missed communications of marriage gives this book depth and staying power.