The Patron Saint of Dreams: Essays

Philip Gerard. Hub City (John F. Blair, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-891885-89-1
Reading Gerard's well-crafted first essay collection is like spending time with an easygoing yet erudite uncle, with whom you're happy to sit around on the front porch on "lazy afternoons…drinking beers and [speculating]" on all manner of personal and historical oddments and occurrences. The book ranges widely in subject matter, the devastation visited upon the North Carolina coast by Hurricane Fran in 1996 to an investigation into whether or not a North Carolina man who died in 1846 really was, as he intermittently claimed to be, the exiled favorite general of Napoleon Bonaparte. As regards the latter, Gerard (Secret Soldiers) doesn't commit to either side; rather he uses it as an opportunity to meditate on the idea of being an imposter, and why so many people fall for them: "Maybe it just makes a better story somehow. Maybe in one sense we are all imposters, wishing for a more glamorous backstory to our lives than the one we have." He demonstrates some unique linguistic brilliance, painting vivid, pullulating scenes of "summer skies choked with thunderheads" and "golden afternoon light cooled by the deep verdure of swaying evergreen trees." However, when this sort of thing goes on for too long, the proceedings can get tedious. But Gerard has a mostly sharp instinct for when to take his leave, and he mostly does so at the right time to leave his reader looking forward to the next visit. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 200 pages - 978-1-891885-94-5
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