The host of a national book review radio program has called Patrick Garry the best undiscovered writer in America. But Patrick Garry is unique in another respect. He writes about themes and ideas that are often absent in the works of contemporary American novelists.

Garry’s novels reaffirm life and the struggle of individuals to live their lives in ways that rise above mere materialism and the stranglehold of destructive temptations. In A Bridge Back, he writes about characters who never quite lose their desire for redemption, no matter how much guilt they feel for the mistakes of the past. Indeed, as the main character in A Bridge Back discovers, the past, no matter how tragic, is not to be feared. Confronting the past can lead to a discovery of truth, which can then lead to the only true freedom. And once the enslavement to fear is ended, a rediscovery of love becomes possible.

Similarly, Finding Flipper Frank depicts a group of characters unexpectedly thrown together who are all, in one way or another, seeking to overcome traumas or disappointments in life. And what they discover is that faith in each other, in an ideal, and in the promise of redemption can lead to a life of new possibilities. It is a timeless story of faith and redemption, but one told within the setting of modern life—a story about the contagiousness of hope.

 In A Bomb Shelter Romance, Garry portrays America as a place that continually changes—and in doing so, continually offers new opportunities for individuals to find what they have always sought to find. This story, of a family ridiculed as it builds the last bomb shelter of the Cold War, reveals how humor and joy can triumph over even the most sudden and traumatic tragedies. The O’Neals are a quintessential American family, if for no other reason than their ability to laugh at their often unenviable state. Yet, as the narrator acknowledges, sometimes you find love when you’re doing absolutely everything to discourage it.

The characters populating In the Shadow of War are nobly (and sometimes even irrationally) trying to make the best of a tough situation. They have been brought together by the narrator’s grandfather, an irrepressible dreamer who still hopes to turn the tiny little ghost town his ancestors once founded into a thriving community. According to the grandfather, the antidote to a past of disappointment is a more intense dream for the future. It is when he is surrounded by the dreams of his grandfather during the summer of his eighteenth year, when the narrator feels guilt-ridden over the death of his mentally handicapped brother, that the narrator discovers the reality of love and the beauty of people who decide to let their dreams, rather than their disappointments, define them.

One of the themes Garry explores in his novels is the theme of moral relativism and the modern propensity to let political positions trump moral integrity. In The Price of Guilt, the main character learns in a very harsh way that political attitudes, no matter how publicly exalted, are no substitute for individual morality. In fact, a superficial pursuit of redemption through a seemingly noble outside goal ultimately sends the narrator to prison. The value of core moral beliefs is also reflected in The Illusion, where the main character, in his reflexive opposition to anything traditional, discards the very morality that offers the only hope for saving him. Political positions and trendy cultural attitudes not only mask the character’s downfall, but actually end up leading him there.

Life can be simpler, and yet more heroic, than is often portrayed in the modern media, which instead can surround us by a confusion of all that can go wrong with life, rather than clarify for us what lies at the core of life—what defines it and makes it worth living. In Saving Faith, an orphan who spent his entire youth in one of the few remaining institutional orphanages begins his life on “the outside,” working as a repossessor for a car dealer. Eager to experience a world that has always been mysterious and alluring, and cherishing his small apartment that houses the things that now belong only to him, he time and again demonstrates his orphan view of life. It is this open and eager view that leads him, through a man whose car he has accidentally towed, to a patient in a hospital about to be demolished, and to the people trying to save that patient.

The main character in Blind Spots has an almost completely opposite background. He has seen and experienced a brutal and unfair reality of life. And yet, under investigation for a shocking crime he did not commit, he finds the courage and determination to decide the simple truth on which his life is to be defined. This novel presents, through the parallel stories of the accused and the judge, a stark contrast of two lives and two ambitions—and the price they must pay for the lives they choose.

Patrick Garry’s novels have been enthusiastically reviewed by more than 50 professional book reviewers. And they have received 17 different book awards from various national and international literary contests.

Yankton Press and Dakotan article July 2013

Yankton Press and Dakotan article July 2013