Saints and Runners: Stories and a Novella


160 pages
ISBN 1-55128-004-3
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is a copy editor at Canadian Press.


This well-crafted collection is told mostly in the first person and
bound together by the shifting relationships of the narrator with
friends and lovers, and the more stable (if no more clearly understood)
bond between narrator and child. Out of these relationships emerges a
sense of impermanence; the child is a physical constant, but the men and
women are moving landscape, often disposable, leaving confusion more
often than meaning in their wake. In “The Saint Who Frequented
Prostitutes,” for instance, the kindly, child- and animal-loving
Francis stumbles into the narrator’s life through a personal ad, but
turns out to be not as open or saintly as he first seemed.

The book is well introduced by the opening story, “Letters to the
Family,” in which a woman asks rambling questions of herself and her
family, often doing both at once. She writes, for example, “Dear
mother, I haven’t been in love since I left Joe four years ago, and I
don’t know if I’m glad or sorry. I miss the way his love filled me
with dense matter, how I could feel each step I took and how I never
confused north from south, driving my car. ... Please advise.”

The final story, a novella, moves to the third person to describe the
fractious friendship between Arla and a redhead (referred to only as
“the runner”), both single mothers on welfare. Arla is determined to
befriend the moody runner, but the runner, like the saint, is hiding
something. Finding it informs Arla that hidden pain can motivate
irrational actions, even as she realizes that the nature of the
connection may be as incommunicable as the questions she’d like
answered by the family.

Like harp strings, these stories, when plucked, produce from their
tension music and meaning that move beyond words.


Scheier, Libby., “Saints and Runners: Stories and a Novella,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,