Dancing On Graves

TITLE: AT WEDDINGS AND WAKES

AUTHOR: ALICE MCDERMOTT

PUBLISHER: FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX 213 PAGES; $19

THE BOTTOM LINE: McDermott secures her reputation as a mesmerizing storyteller

IT GIVES NOTHING AWAY TO REVEAL that near the end of Alice McDermott's lyrical novel At Weddings and Wakes, there is a joyous wedding celebration. The bride, an aging ex-nun, allows herself to be swirled by her staid groom, a mailman who unexpectedly proves a sure-footed dancer. Even Momma, the embittered matriarch of the Irish-American Towne clan, permits herself a few sentimental tears. But when the party ends, Momma reminds the Roman Catholic celebrators...

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