I am John M. McNamara. I have worked as a radio reporter, an advertising copywriter, a technical writer, a speechwriter, a public information officer, an executive director of a non-profit organization and most recently as an assistant dean at an independent law school in Chicago. My short stories have been published in Crosscurrents, Old Hickory Review, the Piedmont Literary Review, the Minotaur, Snapdragon, Four Quarters, FlashFiction, Quick Fiction, Bear River Review and Inside Running. In the summer of 1999, I was awarded a professional artist residency at the OxBow Summer Arts Program for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Saugatuck, Michigan, during which portions of my novel, A Life Without Grace, were written. I served as a Vietnamese linguist in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and now live in Downers Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, with my wife.

Family…one you can make, the other makes you.

A Life Without Grace dissects a tense few days in the life of Grayson Eilers, a successful baby-boomer. Grayson, a freelance speechwriter, receives an urgent message from his sister that their mother has suffered a severe heart attack. She is alive, but her condition remains critical. For more than three decades, Grayson has compartmentalized his life, distancing himself physically and emotionally from the modest origins that his mother, his sister and his two brothers represent, while dedicating himself to his new family: his wife and two children. After a terse conversation with his sister, Grayson, feeling angry and helpless, accepts his inevitable moral imperative: returning to Omaha to confront family members with whom he has never shared any commonality. He arrives in Omaha on the eve of a spring snowstorm that delays the arrival of his wife and his two children, leaving Grayson isolated to cope with the cascade of both predictable and unexpected emotions inherent in his stressful reunion with his estranged family.


It is available at Amazon.com in print and for the Kindle.

All photos Copyright Robin S. Tryloff.