by M. G. Tarquini

Perry L. Crandall's I.Q. is only 76, but he's not retarded, he's slow. In her debut, Lottery, author Patricia Wood makes it clear that slow doesn't mean stupid.

Abandoned by his mother, Perry was raised by his Gram, a cigarette-smoking, free-living bastion of practicality. She taught Perry things he needed to know: to write things down so he wouldn't forget, to save half his paycheck, to learn five new words from the dictionary every day and to buy a lottery ticket every week. Perry is happy. He has a job, friends and a routine. Then Gram dies. Forced to care for himself, Perry takes an apartment over the marine supply shop where he works and does his best to maintain his routine.

Life without Gram is strange and lonely. When Perry wins twelve million dollars in the Washington State Lottery, life gets much, much stranger and a lot less lonely. Suddenly, people speak to Perry directly. They look him in the eye. They ask his advice about business matters and listen to his answers. Perry continues to follow Gram's teachings. He buys himself a few things he wants, takes a trip and banks the rest of his money. All the while Perry's coiffure-obsessed mother and conniving siblings look for a way to relieve Perry of his windfall.

Lottery is a story with heart. Perry's gentle manner, and matter-of-fact take on life commands attention. Perry may be slow, but he is direct and honest and the reader will remember him long after the story's stunning and unexpected resolution.


M.G. Tarquini's first novel, HINDSIGHT, won runner-up in the Philadelphia City Paper's 21st Annual Writing Contest. Ms. Tarquini lives in Phoenix. She spends her off-hours singing with the coyotes and pulling cactus needles from her backside.

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