The Patron Saint of Dreams

The Patron Saint of Dreams

by: Philip Gerard
Release date: Mar 1st, 2012

Told by Philip Gerard, one of the South’s most acclaimed and masterful nonfiction writers, these are the stories we live, and the lovely and terrible people who live them with us. Read More

Softcover - $17.95
(ISBN: 978-1891885-89-1)


Meet the characters of essayist Philip Gerard’s world: a misguided sailor and his crew of rowdy teenage boys, an ancient nun, a nurse who believes the government has been secretly spreading the bubonic plague, a park ranger, jaded baseball players, a voice on a VHF radio far out to sea, a family of itinerant Mexicans camping dangerously in a dry riverbed, a famous alcoholic writer, and a few inexplicable ghosts. Gerard’s true stories are shot through with the uncanny and the mysterious—they are not quiet interior contemplations but instead are full of public events, remarkable encounters, life-and-death moments that both reveal and deepen the mysteries of our lives.

The Patron Saint of Dreams is a collection of fifteen narrative essays that address events in the world through the lens of personal experience, moments when seemingly small decisions have large consequences: enduring the terror of a direct hit by a hurricane, hiking through bear country and suffering a heart attack, hearing a disturbing secret from a old soldier who has kept it for sixty years, discovering an imposter who maintains his dual life long after death. Told by one of the South’s most acclaimed and masterful nonfiction writers, these are the stories we live, and the lovely and terrible people who live them with us.

More Praise for The Patron Saint of Dreams


"Reading Gerard's well-crafted first essay collection is like spending time with an easygoing yet erudite uncle, with whom you're happy to sit around on the front porch on 'lazy afternoons…drinking beers and [speculating] on all manner of personal and historical oddments and occurrences. ... He demonstrates some unique linguistic brilliance, painting vivid, pullulating scenes of 'summer skies choked with thunderheads' and 'golden afternoon light cooled by the deep verdure of swaying evergreen trees.'" Publishers Weekly
"Every time you let your guard down, he stuns you with a hard shot. Luminous." —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway and The Hummingbird’s Daughter
“The range and variety in this fine collection is enormous, from hardball to hurricanes, from a mother's death to nearly dying himself, from steep seas and rescue to a poet lost in his alcoholism, but always there is the smart, compassionate, humorous voice of a masterful storyteller of large heart, great sanity, and keen sight.” —Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy
“The nuanced integrity that I associate with Philip Gerard’s writing is on every page of The Patron Saint of Dreams. Gerard’s essays become a meditation through which he seeks, then clarifies, his perspective on the pursuit of larger truths that are always complicated, often just out of reach, always worth the chase. I have the sense Gerard views writing as a calling, arising from the conviction that words can matter to figuring out what we’re all doing here. For me, these great essays take place in Wordsworth’s “spots of time,” those spaces the poet said contain a “renovating virtue” that can lift us up when we are fallen.” —Diana Hume George, author of The Lonely Other: A Woman Watching America
"There is a raw energy to this book; it is driven by a crisp, active, almost bristling voice that sweeps a reader along, whether the subject is hurricanes, baseball, or an ailing mother. But what elevates The Patron Saint of Dreams from good to great, and makes it a part of the greater tradition of the essay, is the author's vulnerability, his willingness to put himself, and his flaws, out there. In the end the book celebrates some common virtues of work, willpower, and community, as well as a less common but equally vital one: our deep need to tell stories, and the way these stories save us." —David Gessner, author of My Green Manifesto and The Tarball Chronicles

The Patron Saint of Dreams is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Philip Gerard

Philip Gerard

Philip Gerard chairs the Department of Creative Writing (BFA and MFA) at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and is co-editor of the literary journal Chautauqua. He has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous magazines, including New England Review/Bread Loaf Quarterly, Creative Nonfiction, Hawai'i Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, New Letters, Arts & Letters, Fourth Genre, and The World & I. He is the author of four books of nonfiction, including Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life, and three novels. Two of his weekly radio essays have been broadcast on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Gerard has served as writer in residence at Old Dominion University in Virginia and has taught at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. Visit

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