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Outward Signs

This collection of seven stories suggests that sacramental power erupts in startling ways outside the normal context: a baptism conducted in the Gulf of Mexico by a crazed evangelical; a paralyzed skier who uses her handicap to dissuade from suicide; an altar boy's burial of the Eucharist under a Japanese maple; a religious confession made at a health club; a curate, expiring in a tuxedo, whose last sermon gives solace to a lapsed Catholic; a laicized priest called to anoint a dying woman; a young deacon pressed to exorcise a couple trapped in a demonic marriage. These stories confirm what George Bernanos wrote in the Diary of a Country Priest: "Grace is everywhere."

  • "I have read your stories with interest. I like Yvette of the Altars,The Benefit of the Doubt, and my favorite Conjugal Visit. You know so much more than I do about religion. I feel foolish in venturing my opinions, even literary ones, yet you are true in your intention to reveal the mysterious grace of God in action. I have no idea what editors and publishers today would make of your work, but I would not be surprised, though, if you wrote a good novel."
    J.F. Powers, who won the 1963 National Book Award for Morte d'Urban, and had a long career as a sardonic writer of sympathetic fiction about priests, reviewed this book in manuscript.
  • These stories are so well plotted that like the best fiction you must turn the page to learn what happens. They inspire with their riveting portraits of young and old, gay and straight, married and single. There's something for everyone but especially for readers who love stylish prose. The most interested will be those who have not given up on religion as a humane way of life. These tales are not for the narrow-minded fundamentalist but for sincere searchers who enjoy the classical ideal: to please and instruct. Sensual and sacramental, Roccasalvo's Outward Signs earns the highest accolade: it's serious fun.
    Julian Martell, author of "Postscript" in Sorrow Built A Bridge.