Lives of the Saints

Lemann, Nancy. Lives of the Saints. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Probably the only good thing to come out of missing a cat is the long sleepless nights I spend reading. I was able to read Lives of the Saints in almost two nights.
Louise is a young woman with a great sense of sarcastic and romance. She has returned to New Orleans after college to work in a law firm. She reconnects with her long time love Claude Collier (as well as his family). Through a series of events Louise and the Colliers are changed forever. While the entire story is short (less than 150 pages) Lemann packs in a lifetime of emotion. What makes the story unique is Lemann’s writing style. She has fun playing with capitalization and repetition. Many reviews I read seem to fixate on the capitalization. I was more distracted by the insane amount of repetition. I wish I could count how many times the color green is mentioned or how many white seersucker suits are being worn. Every big event hosts and green and white striped awning.  It’s very distracting. Here’s a small sample, “Saint started talking about bridges. He was Very Interested in bridges lately. Bridges were what made his Life Worth Living. He was studying bridges. Sometimes Claude had to take Saint out for a whole day to look at different bridges in the city. The theme was definitely bridges” (p 43). The entire book is filled with this ‘Rain Man’ like writing.

Favorite lines, “Then to put it differently, he was a man who had, at some juncture, come to know himself, and therefore had come to despise himself, and therefore was deemed worthy of the name: wise” (p 26), “We only saw three races and it was so boring and decadent that I fell asleep form psychological pressure” (p 30), and “His kisses were like conducting conversations with heaven” (p 76).

Reason read: Lives of the Saints takes place in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina ripped through Cajun country in the month of August. In remembrance of that disaster I am reading Lemann’s book.

Author fact: Lives of the Saints is Lemann’s first book.

Book trivia: Walker Percy called it “nutty” and I couldn’t agree more. This is definitely an odd little book.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter simply called “New Orleans” (p 168).



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