The Book Cellar
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"What You Don't Know About Men" tells the funny, heartbreaking stories of 20 sometimes shy, sometimes sexy, often sentimental men who march through life as punch-drunk fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, friends and lovers.
Michael Burke's debut collection opens with the story of Matthew Connors, a suburban Chicago teen struggling to protect his sister and brother while their parents vacation in the Petrified Forest.
The book closes with Brendan and Richard, two grooms in a seemingly uneventful gay wedding on a breezy Lake Michigan shore.
In between, we meet: Father Daniel, a cranky Southside priest seeking forgiveness for a long-ago affair; Roy, an ex-Marine battling hallucinations while sprawled on the Belmont Harbor rocks; Patrick Kincaid, a roofer whose boyfriend rides the Red Line subway acting like a young Lauren Bacall; Eddie Doyle, a haunted widower wrestling with his shattered Catholicism while his daughter hides a secret; Bug O'Connor, who tries to pass off a brash chorus girl as Patsy Cline; and four buddies who shoot skeet, bet at the dog races and fail to understand the women around them.
These provocative, page-turning stories are crisply written with an epic minimalism to depict the triumph, defeat, stalemate and surrender of everyday life.