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Michigan and the Great Lakes

How Like an Angel

A Novel
Jack Driscoll
The story of a Michigan family's knotted emotional ties


How Like an Angel is the story of Archibald Angel. With his career going nowhere and a marriage in decline, Angel retreats to a rustic cabin in northern Michigan to make a new life for himself.

In spite of his forward thinking, Angel's move is in many ways a journey into the past. Besides lacking modern comforts, the cabin conjures the ghost of Angel's troubled childhood, when his undertaker father took the cabin in trade as payment from a widow who couldn't otherwise afford the cost of her husband's burial. After Angel's mother subsequently fled, abandoning her family to recover from a mental breakdown, the cabin was an escape for father and son.

While Archibald Angel revisits his knotted and difficult past, his ex-wife and young son contemplate their future. Slowly, with unexpected help from an unpredictable woman, Angel realizes he too must find a way to begin again or risk failing his son as his own father failed him.

With pathos, humor, and unflagging generosity of spirit, How Like an Angel takes us deep into the hinterland of the human heart and discovers there the source of the love that keeps us holding on against all odds.

Jack Driscoll is the author of four books of poems, a collection of short stories, and three novels. In addition, he is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, the NEH Independent Study Grant, Pushcart and Best American Short Story citations, the Pen/Nelson Algren Fiction Award, the Associated Writing Programs Short Fiction Award, and seven Pen Syndicated Project Short Fiction Awards.

Praise / Awards

  • "How Like an Angel is a lyrical, lonely ode to fatherhood, an aria in words that looks forward and backward at once. Jack Driscoll is a writer of deep heart, relentless honesty, uncanny gentleness, and irresistible spirit."
    —Pam Houston

  • "How Like an Angel is a powerfully imagined, lyrically wrought novel, overflowing with the senses. Jack Driscoll is a marvel."
    —Rick Bass

  • "With prose at once lyrical and plainspoken, the author is a bold guide through the forest of human longing and loss, where fathers and sons must dare find their way home. . . . Driscoll's ethic of literary craftsmanship places him among the rebel writers in an era of truncated attention span. His novel challenges the page-turner culture of formulaic, pre-packaged 'pop-lit' in which a book's worth is measured by how swiftly it can be consumed. Here, the language is so rich in flavor and nourishment that it frequently arouses the desire to linger and reread a single line or paragraph—rather than flip the page. Like real intimacy itself, this novel insists on its own pace, and continually moves us in unexpected ways."
    Fore Word

  • "Each line Driscoll writes is a mind vision. His language soars, hovers, almost exhales and inhales with us. As if words could be breathed in, these can be palpably savored as the visions they create expand then move on, taking us to a different place done up in a fine ribbon of words."
    —Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, Traverse City Record-Eagle

  • ". . . Driscoll returns to the settings and themes of his earlier poetry and short stories. That is to say, the small towns of the northern Lower Peninsula near Interlochen, where he has taught writing for many years, and the sometimes tender, sometimes torturous relations between fathers and sons. . . . Always a beautiful writer, Driscoll is often at his best when facing sadness. . . . The novel's central conflict is Archie's struggle to stay relevant in his son's life, and to be a better father than he had. How Archie manages to pull it off—by riding in a demolition derby, by taking his son on a hot air balloon ride, by opening up to Rodney and to his new girlfriend and to the small-town characters in his life—is the novel's central triumph."
    —Kevin Breen, Grand Rapids Press

  • "[Driscoll] plucks the words out of the lyrical current of the world and then liberates them, slightly changed and invigorated, for others to enjoy." —Ann Arbor News

  • ". . . Driscoll's prose has verve to it, life and humor and clear-eyed harshness, an eye for nature and how people move through it that make the novel taste like a cold beer after a long day's hike."
    Chicago Tribune

  • ". . . full of memorable scenes, vivid flashbacks and a few real surprises--it's everything one could ask for in a highly entertaining look at life, death, love and growth."
    —Ray Walsh, Lansing State Journal

  • Named a 2006 Michigan Notable Book

Look Inside

Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 252 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02162-8

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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  • $19.95 U.S.

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  • novel, fiction, Northern Michigan