Fall 2011 • Vol. XXXIII No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2011 |

Punchline

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.        —As You Like It, William Shakespeare When Father Phil Castor counseled his parishioners, he advised them to pay attention to the things they didn't want to think about—the shadows, the echoes, the uneasy feelings. "That place where your mind skids away? The thing you won't even get close to? That's where your trouble is. That's the thing to notice." Seeing the complacent look seep across the face of whoever sat in his office that day, Phil would bear down. "Don't imagine that you think about everything. You don't. No one does. And your downfall is going to come from that thing you don't want to see." He knew better than to share his own experience, even if hearing a few stories about the real lives of priests might do prissy Mary Holt a world of good. The kind of parishioner who came to her priest for guidanc

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Erin McGraw is the author of six books of fiction, most recently Better Food for a Better World: A Novel (Slant Books, 2013). Her stories have appeared in Kenyon Review, Atlantic and many other journals. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, the poet Andrew Hudgins.

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