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May 08 , 2009

Let Me Count the Ways

A Novel


The sins of the father are hilariously visited on the son in this witty and profound novel about the meaning of it all

Stanley Waltz is a Polish American piano mover and pugnacious atheist married to a born-again believer. His heroes are H. L. Mencken and Clarence Darrow, and if he confuses “illusion” with “allusion” and thinks a certain style of egg is “bedeviled,” that does not mean his reasoning is any less sound. Unfortunately, his wife is immune to his intellect and insists not just on saving his soul but on taking their son, Tom, to the local gospel mission every chance she gets. It is enough to drive a man into the arms of a mistress “funny as a crutch and twice as perceptive”—and that is exactly where Stan goes.

This leaves Tom twice as mixed up as the average son. In the second section of this side-splitting and thought-provoking comedy, he is a professor of English at the local college, his questions about faith, doubt, and morality as unresolved as they are inescapable. As an undergraduate, he stumbled from girl to girl, breaking up with one because she was a nonbeliever, another because she was too pious. His marriage to a beautiful professor of comparative religion is no solution. In short order, he has an affair, breaks his leg, leads a funeral procession hopelessly astray, and suffers a nervous breakdown. Only a miracle can save him—if he can figure out what one might look like.

Stanley and Tom Waltz are a father-son duo unlike any other, and Let Me Count the Ways is Peter De Vries at his insightful, brilliant, lightning-witted best. 
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