Spotlight on Fellow Mortals by Dennis Mahoney

I just finished an incredible novel so probing and provocative that I knew I had to feature it today.  It’s Fellow Mortals  by Dennis Mahoney.

fellow mortals

About the Book:

An affecting story about how relationships are built—and burned—by desperate needs and obligations

When Henry Cooper sets out on his mail route on Arcadia Street one crisp spring morning, he has no idea that his world is about to change. He is simply enjoying the sunshine as he lights up a cigar and tosses the match to the ground, entirely unaware that he has just started a fire that will destroy a neighborhood and kill a young wife. 
     Even though the fire has been put out, it has ignited a lurking menace in an otherwise apparently peaceful suburb. In Fellow Mortals, Dennis Mahoney depicts the fire’s aftermath in the lives of its survivors. There’s Henry’s wife, Ava, devoted to her husband but yearning to recover a simpler time in their marriage. There’s the angry neighbor, Peg, who wants Henry to pay for what he’s done, no matter the cost—which ends up being grave. And then there’s Sam Bailey, the sculptor who lost his wife in the fire and has retreated to the woods to carve mysterious figures out of trees. As Sam struggles to overcome his anger and loss, Henry becomes the focal point of deepening loyalties and resentments, leaving them all vulnerable to hidden dangers and reliant on the bonds that have emerged, unexpectedly, from tragedy. 
     With sparse and handsome prose reminiscent of Raymond Carver and early Stewart O’Nan, Mahoney’s probing first novel charts the fall of a man who has spent his life working to be decent and shows us a community trying desperately to hold itself together.

About the Author  in his own voice:

I live in upstate New York with my wife, son, and dog. FELLOW MORTALS is my first published novel. I wrote a bunch of lousy ones before that, which shall remain locked away in perpetuity, so as to foster the illusion that I succeeded first try.

Four-word description of FELLOW MORTALS: “Tragic fire heightens relationships.”

Character dilemmas: (1) How do you treat a man who accidentally killed your spouse? (2) What if a determined optimist caused irreparable damage? (3) What if helping strangers hurt your loved ones? (4) Can mere effort, even failed effort, save a person’s life?

More about me: I blog at and Tweet at @Giganticide. I once grew a 314-lbs. pumpkin in the yard. I listen to loads of 18th-century classical music, which I realize is peculiar, but it’s better and livelier than most people think.

I’m writing a new novel and hope to finish the draft in 2013. Feel free to email me using the contact info listed on my blog. I like answering questions. THE ANSWERS MAY SURPRISE YOU. Though probably not.

Barnes and Noble chose this title as a Discover Great New Writers selection and it is very worthy of the honor.  Fellow Mortals is one of my favorites so far this year.  Read it!

Check back for my book review and an interview with Dennis Mahoney, as well as a giveaway!


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Filed under books, fiction, literary fiction

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