Praying to a Laughing God: A Novel

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9780684837611: Praying to a Laughing God: A Novel

Set in the heartland of America, "Praying to a Laughing God" is the remarkable and moving story of old friendships, new love, deeply hidden secrets, and the discovery of truths. It is about the death of dreams and the birth of hope; about a disappearing way of life and the reaffirmation of the human spirit. When Clark Holstrom goes each morning to open the hardware store he has operated for years on the main street of Credibull, Minnesota, he asks himself why he even bothers. Both the town and the way of life Clark has known for the past 70 years are dying; only the memories are left, and soon they will fade as well. What is best about Credibull is the comfort its residents take in the repetition of their daily lives; what is worst is the deadening monotony that has thrown a stupor over the town. So when a hotshot journalist, the author of several bestselling and exploitative true-crime books, announces that he is coming to Credibull to investigate a 40-year-old unsolved murder and make the story the basis for his next opus, the town is thrown into a frenzy of gossip and speculation. When Clark hears the news of the writer's plans, however, his reaction is one of pure dread. He remembers the murder only too well, and he knows that a reopening of the investigation could only be bad news for his best friend, Maynard Tewle, the man who everyone thought to be the murderer, but against whom the State could never make an adequate case. Maynard's health has been failing for some time, and Clark knows that the trauma of having to endure more prying into his life might be enough to kill him. And indeed the writer's arrival in Credibull does prove to be the catalyst for a change, not only in thelives of Clark and Maynard but of virtually everyone who has been a part of that town.

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About the Author:

While this is Kevin McColley's first adult novel, he is the author
of several critically acclaimed novels for young adults. He lives in
Bemidji, Minnesota.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A YA author (Switch, 1997, etc.) crosses over into adult fiction with a richly told tale of a buried crime in tiny Credibull, Minnesota. The story opens on the bench of the feedstore with the amusing crosstalk of best friends Maynard Tewle, 78, and Clark Holstrom, 72, as they chew over a local burglar's having stolen a VCR. Maynard complains that ``People don't give a damn about nothing no more.'' Well, the townsfolk have clearly forgiven Maynard for apparently having murdered Albert Wilson with a hammer some 30 years ago. The old man still maintains his innocenceafter all, though nobody was ever tried, everyone in town knows that a crazy, lusty Catholic priest, Father Kenneth Callahan, confessed to the killing on his deathbed. Now, however, a true-crime writer from Chicago, Ted Lewell, thinks he knows something about that long-ago case and turns up in Credibull to research a book about the true culprit. Meanwhile, Clark Holstrom's wife Nora lies dying in a nursing home, having lost both legs to frostbite when she slipped in the middle of winter while taking out the garbage and was only found much later, unconscious. Comatose Nora hasn't spoken for a year, although Clark detects a peculiar glint in her eye as it stares past him. Along with this, Clark, who spends much of his time caring for the historical society's museum, has turned his hardware store over to his overweight, bald, bumbling son Walter, who tells his dad that business is hopping. Clark knows, though, that Walter is a poor businessman and suspects he may be sinking the store with inept management as he tries to fight the newly opened Wal-Mart by creating a computer section. Eventually, Lewell drives the already none-too-stable Maynard around the bend, convincing him that he's in fact the guilty party, even though the wise reader suspects otherwise. As funny and sinister as the Coens' take on Minnesota in Fargo. Well done, indeed. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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