OVERRIDE

The Appearance of a Hero

The Tom Mahoney Stories

Peter Levine

St. Martin's Press

"Levine’s stories are riveting and subtle, shot through with a muted wisdom and palpable compassion." ―Publisher's Weekly

Tom Mahoney is the golden boy everyone knew in school: good-looking, charming, an athlete---sought after by women, the envy of men. His success in life seems a foregone conclusion. In The Appearance of a Hero, Tom navigates the passage into adulthood, his story chronicled from every perspective but his own.

Tom crisscrosses the country in search of direction, affecting the lives of everyone he meets. The recounting of his illicit affair with an older colleague reveals a young man unprepared for the emotional entanglements that come with love. Tom’s father, Stuart, struggles to reconcile Tom’s splendor with his shortcomings, as he watches his only child fail to live up to expectations. A young couple befriends an unsuspecting Tom, attempting to extract the very qualities others find so alluring about him. For an aging tennis partner, Tom serves as a lens through which the man is able to understand his early years of fatherhood. A girlfriend, enamored by Tom, attempts to isolate him, with shocking consequences.

As the mythology surrounding Tom grows richer, Tom struggles to understand what exactly has eluded him, and in stories that grow increasingly desperate and heartbreaking, we begin to see that being an icon is not all it’s cracked up to be. In this haunting short story collection, Peter Levine offers a portrait of a hero for the twenty-first century, a man whose legend is constructed not by himself but by those around him, all desperate for someone to idolize.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?
 
 
HE TELLS ME he felt it once—love. Lust, mainly, though he had hoped it would turn into love. He—a friend I know from work—is dedicated, driven, will be as good a salesman as there is (they taught us at a seminar in Dallas to learn one story and to tell that story well, tell it to any potential client: the birth of your kid, the day you won the big game, your most recent vacation—it doesn’t matter what story; its only use is to begin a conversation, which will lead to a sale)—he is quick, incisive and, we all tell
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Appearance of a Hero

"Tom Mahoney, the luminous center of Peter Levine's collection of finely crafted short stories, The Appearance of a Hero, is a hero for the male friends and acquaintances that largely narrate the tales...Levine's words linger after the hero is forgotten; as stories do, they have given us a reason to keep on living." —Hopkins Review

"At the center of Levine’s excellent debut story collection is Tom Mahoney, a young Chicago salesman with career aspirations. We follow Tom’s interactions through the eyes of friends and associates: in “Our Hero David Katz,” the awkward business student who tries to impress his friends with wild tales of his fictional brother’s globe-trotting exploits; or Tom’s neighbors, the fathers in “Princess,” who, on a camping trip with their daughters, cross a delicate line. While the subjects are diverse, Tom remains the focus: his first love with a troubled older woman; his reluctant entry into the business world; being used and abandoned by women. Though a lost soul whom happiness and success eludes, to other men Tom embodies masculinity, sexual prowess, and bottomless sociability. Emasculated by modern life, these men need to believe in some fount of virility and independence. Though overly sentimental about the lost “heroes” of upper-middle-class manhood, Levine’s stories are riveting and subtle, shot through with a muted wisdom and palpable compassion. He chronicles Tom’s new lost generation: privileged millennials who grow up to find that life is always elsewhere."―Publisher's Weekly

In the Press

Fiction Review: The Appearance of a Hero: The Tom Mahoney Stories by Peter Levine. St. Martin's, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-250-00122-1
At the center of Levine's excellent debut story collection is Tom Mahoney, a young Chicago salesman with career aspirations. We follow Tom's interactions through the eyes of friends and associates: in
- Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Peter Levine

  • PETER LEVINE earned his M.F.A. from The Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, StoryQuarterly, and elsewhere. He has held residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He lives in Washington, D.C.

  • Peter Levine
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Appearance of a Hero

The Tom Mahoney Stories

Peter Levine

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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