Lying with the Dead

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-10-06
  • Publisher: Other Press
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In this novel, Greek tragedy meets a dysfunctional family from Maryland, revealing how time and place matter little when it comes to the implacable logic of the darkest human emotions. The family matriarchhalf Medea, half Clytemnestracalls home her three children, who take turns narrating this story, for a final, bedside reunion. There's the firstborn, Maury, who has Asperger's, and whose poetic and offbeat reasoning is both endearing and heartbreaking; Candy, his sister, who takes care of their mother, having renounced marrying the man she loves; and Quinn, the wonder boy who left his white trash background to become a successful actor in London. Mother still lives in the house where she made their lives miserable as children and where their father was murdereda crime for which Maury went to jail as a teenager. Once the family is reassembled in the childhood home, the pieces of a somber puzzle come together over brilliant and witty exchanges showing Irish humor at its best. Mewshaw invites us into the heart of a family dynamic, at times almost too close for comfort, exploding prejudices about murder and family love.

Author Biography

Michael Mewshaw is the author of seventeen novels, including Year of the Gun and Shelter from the Storm, as well as works of nonfiction, including the memoir Do I Owe You Something?, a chronicle of his many and varied encounters with major contemporary American authors.


My neighbors, no kidding, buy tiger shit from the London Zoo and spread it over their flowerbeds. They believe its wild scent scares off animals. But I allow creatures large and small free rein of my property. Squirrels, hedgehogs, voles, and field mice (they mutate into rats and become fair game for traps if they sneak into the house) frolic for my amusement. On clear winter mornings like this one, a tawny fox, regal as a lion on the Serengeti, sometimes stretches out in the deep grass, soaking up the feeble warmth of the sun.

Today, however, I have no time to admire the view or search for the fox. I'm booked for lunch with my agent and a BBC producer. Already late, I nevertheless stroll to the restaurant by a circuitous route, reveling in cold air that rings like crystal. On certain streets, the walls of cottages huddle close, none more than a hand span apart. Each door is a different color–lipstick red, royal green, Della Robbia blue. At Admiral's Walk, in front of the white wooden mansion whereMary Poppinswas filmed, a brigade of tourists gape as if expecting to spot Julie Andrews sailing overhead, pulled along by her umbrella.

At Whitestone Pond, the highest point in London, the water is usually like a detergent filled bucket stirred by a grimy mop. Today it glitters with jeweled ice. Convinced I've kept Mal and the man from the Beeb waiting long enough, I turn down Heath Street. The ethnicity of the restaurants along the road switches every month. Indian, Hungarian, Moroccan, Thai, Argentinean–maybe these joints just trade signs and go on serving the same grub. Only La Gaffe never changes. Despite the French name, it has an Italian menu and attracts a clientele divided evenly between those who look like Peter O'Toole and those who crane their necks looking for him.

Excerpted from Lying with the Dead by Michael Mewshaw
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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