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Survival Rates

Clyde, Mary

32 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0820320498 / ISBN 13: 9780820320496
Published by University of Georgia, 1999, 1999
From Tony Lamy Bookseller (Cincinnati, OH, U.S.A.)

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Hard Cover. Fine/Fine. First Edition. 1st printing. Bookseller Inventory # 27475

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Survival Rates

Publisher: University of Georgia, 1999

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Clyde's collection of short stories explores not so much what has already happened but what happens next, showing how sometimes the most difficult part of life's misfortunes is trying to find a way to go on.


The nine stories in Mary Clyde's debut collection are populated by people in crisis. There are cancer victims and divorcees, doctors with personal problems and boyfriends with inferiority complexes. Some of the pieces are downright hilarious, others are quietly ironic, but all are branded with Clyde's offbeat perspective and quirky prose. Consider the title story, in which a married landscape architect is abashed by the form of cancer he's diagnosed with: "Dr. Rodgers, insisting that cancers have personalities, has told them thyroid cancer lacks any real oncological ambition." Bad enough to have cancer to begin with, but to be afflicted by "an embarrassment to the whole cancer community" is the straw that eventually breaks the architect's marriage. Both the humor and the cancer are deadlier in "Krista Had a Treble Clef Rose," in which two teenage girls who have met on an oncology ward fight to maintain their sense of normalcy in the face of surgeries, restricted diets, and ostomy bags: "I've got three hairs left," one tells the other at a lunch counter in a mall. "I'm playing up my eyes."

Not every story is about death, per se, though the dead figure into most of them. In "Victor's Funeral Urn," for example, a divorced woman and her young son find a container of ashes by the roadside and are swept up in a search for its next of kin. And in "Pruitt Love" a young man intimidated by his girlfriend's eccentric family attempts to equalize the playing field by using his mother's death as a conversation piece. Love, faith, death, and plastic surgery are just a few of the themes Mary Clyde touches on in Survival Rates, a collection infused with wit, compassion, and a deep wellspring of hope. --Alix Wilber

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