Paperback / softback
April 21, 2011
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v2.1 Reference

The Law of Miracles

And Other Stories

These stories take place in the space where the rational and irrational intersect—the space governed by The Law of Miracles. Writing with a remarkable range of invention, Gregory Blake Smith has created a world in which his characters navigate between the everyday and the extraordinary: an aged Russian woman who lives simultaneously in the St. Petersburg of iPods and BMWs and in the starving Leningrad of the Siege; a Venetian art conservator who loves the women of the Renaissance paintings he restores but cannot bear the touch of the woman at his side; a down-and-out slot-machine technician who calculates the probability of his wife's dying. Yet for all their variety of setting and subject, there runs through each of these stories a thread of the miraculous, a suspicion that the transcendent lies just at the edge of perception. We watch the characters of The Law of Miracles struggle toward that transcendence, whether it be through love or art or violence, until we as readers feel—like the main character of the Pushcart Prize–winning "Presently in Ruins"—that if we could only parse the seemingly random details of our existence some new pattern of meaning would emerge, some new magic that would transform our lives.

About the Author

Gregory Blake Smith is the Lloyd P. Johnson-Norwest Professor of English and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of three novels: The Madonna of Las Vegas, The Devil in the Dooryard, and The Divine Comedy of John Venner, which was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.


"As marvelously varied as these stories are in terms of premise, narration, and setting, they all exhibit the same powerful sense of authenticity, creative exuberance, careful observation, and moral engagement. The Law of Miracles is intellectual, even philosophical, but its exploration of ideas never comes at the expense of its characters, whose hearts and minds Smith occupies with empathy and elegance and a fundamental regard for complexity. Chekhov said a writer's job is not to solve problems but to state them correctly, and that's exactly what Smith does in this precise and deeply imagined collection. The Law of Miracles is my favorite kind of book, both conceptual and urgent"—Chris Bachelder, author of U.S.! and Bear v. Shark

"Nine 'Moral Problems' structure this wonderful book; each is a vignette or short story. . . . A final moral problem, 'A Comic Divertissement,' begins fewer than two 'seconds after the Big Bang.' For the Creator, human struggle and longing, we learn, have been little more than a caprice, the biggest trick on us all."—Minnesota Star Tribune

"Stories offer reflections on conflict, morality, and provide a satisfying blend of philosophical and psychological reflection."—The Fiction Shelf
University of Massachusetts Press
Juniper Prize for Fiction

9781558499003 : the-law-of-miracles-smith
Paperback / softback
160 Pages
$22.95 USD

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