SAINT CHRISTOPHER ON PLUTO
"Nancy McKinley mixes screwball humor with social criticism in a collection of interlocking stories about two women who work in a mall in Northeastern Pennsylvania." —NPR's Maureen Corrigan heard nationally on Fresh Air. Listen here.
MK and Colleen get reacquainted while working in different stores at a bankrupt mall. Way back, the women went to Catholic school together and collaborated on racy letters to a Vietnam War soldier who thought they were much older than seventh graders. Their ruse typifies later shenanigans, usually brought on by the large, red-headed Colleen, a self-proclaimed Celtic Warrior and fiction writer (also self-proclaimed in MK’s opinion).
After ditching Colleen's car to collect the insurance, they drive from one unexpected event to the next in Big Blue, MK's Buick clunker with a St. Christopher statue glued to the dash. The glow-in-the-dark icon guides them past the farm debris, mine ruins, and fracking waste of Pennsylvania's Appalachia North. Yet their world is not a dystopia. Rather, MK and Colleen show why, amidst all the desperation, there is still a community of hope, filled with people looking out for their neighbors and with survivors who offer joy, laughter, and goodwill.
Praise for St. Christopher on Pluto
Finalist in the 2021 Colorado Literary Book Awards
"The winkingly endearing stories of Nancy McKinley’s St. Christopher on Pluto function like a scrapbook, capturing life in a small Pennsylvania town through connected anecdotes that span decades."
—Foreword Reviews by Michelle Anne Schingler (January/February 2020). Read the review here.
"Nancy McKinley "delivers emotionally devastating stories about how places with bleak economic futures hurt good, ordinary people—as well as how such people quietly craft lives full of intangible bounty. Warm, generous stories."
"Covert is a good way to characterize how this droll novel-in-stories delivers its social commentary. It's so entertaining to go along for the ride with MK and chatty Colleen, and, because of their wry, sometimes bumbling, suck-it-up resiliency, it's also possible to take in these hard-luck landscapes and see some possibility amidst all the losses."
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's award-winning national book reviewer and author
“St. Christopher on Pluto is good word medicine. I belly laughed and was so touched so many times, I had to keep tissues on hand. I will stock up and give this book to any friend overwhelmed by life.”
—Beverly Donofrio, author of Riding in Cars with Boys
“Set amidst Pennsylvania small-town life, the linked stories in St. Christopher on Pluto tackle big subjects: war, faith, AIDS, female friendship, race, and aging. Gravitas and comedy are not an easy combination, but Nancy McKinley masterfully mixes the two in a moving, memorable, and inspiring collection.”
—Steven Schwartz, author of Madagascar: New and Selected Stories
“A dazzling collection, recounted in multiple colloquial voices and acute imagery that conveys a palpable and cinematic sense of place.”
—J. Michael Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life
"McKinley’s writing shines as she highlights the protagonists’ personalities and the hope, comfort, and creativity these individuals and their hometowns exude."
—Sara Pisak, Northern Appalachian Review, Volume 1, Number 1, Book Review of St. Christopher on Pluto