Reply All: Stories

Reply All: Stories

Reply All: Stories

Reply All: Stories


Reply All, the third collection of award-winning and widely anthologized short stories by Robin Hemley, takes a humorous, edgy, and frank look at the human art of deception and self-deception. A father accepts, without question, the many duplicate saint relics that appear in front of his cave every day; a translator tricks Magellan by falsely translating a local chief's words of welcome; an apple salesman a long way from home thinks he's fallen in love; a search committee believes in its own nobility by hiring a minority writer; a cheating couple broadcast their affair to an entire listserv; a talk show host interviews the dead and hopes to learn their secrets. The ways in which humans fool themselves are infinite, and while these stories illustrate this sad fact in sometimes excruciating detail, the aim is not to skewer the misdirected, but to commiserate with them and blush in recognition.


Too many blessings break a man apart.

—Tomaz Salamun

Today, we did inventory, my son Domenic and I: ten shinbones belonging to St. Timothy. Sixteen tibias of Paul. Four skulls of John the Baptist. Three complete skeletons of Mary Magdalene. a jar of teeth simply labeled “Assorted Saints.” a cask of desiccated organs. Thirteen livers of St. Peter. the dried tongues of Judas Iscariot, Simon, and Thomas. Fingernail shavings of the great kings of France, including the entire big toenail of Richard the Lionheart. His entrails, too. the scapulas of Saints Catherine and Michael. Enough True Cross splinters to build a bridge from Chinon to Paris. God even sends us bones on His day of rest, and that confounds me. Are all other mortals deemed worthy enough to share in His rest, except us, His bone slaves?

“Does it concern you, my son, that Saint Peter had so many livers, and Mary Magdalene so many skeletons within her?” I have asked him this question and variations upon it before, but my . . .

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