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Excerpt from Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Saint X

by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin X
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2020, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2021, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


As the sisters cross the sand to the volleyball court, young men rise from their chairs and stroll casually in their wake. They are in the mood for some volleyball after all.

* * *

THE SKINNY one counts off the players, one, two, one, two. Claire takes a seat on the sideline.

"You're my extra pair of eyes, little miss," he says to her with a grin. He tousles her hair and she stiffens at his touch.

Just before the game begins, Alison slips her tunic up over her head and drops it in the sand beside her sister. The eyes of the other players land on her, noticing while trying to appear as if they have not noticed the large conch-pink scar on her stomach. For a moment she stands perfectly still as they take in her secret spectacle. Then she snatches the ball from the sand and tosses it into the air.

* * *

IT IS not much of a game. A few high schoolers and college kids, a couple of young dads with some lingering fitness, a woman who ducks whenever the ball comes near her, a husband and wife in their mid-thirties—a slight paunch spilling over the waistband of the husband's pink dolphin-print swim trunks, the wife's immaculate body casting off the aura of frantic hours at the gym—and one genuinely skilled guy whose overinvestment in the game (unnecessarily aggressive spikes, the frequent utterance of the phrase "a little advice" as he attempts to whip his team into shape) quickly begins to grate on everyone.

As the game progresses, the players converse about the usual things. It is established that two couples are from New York, one is from Boston, and another from Miami. The woman who ducks is from Minneapolis. A Chicagoan on his honeymoon has left his brand-new wife, whose langoustine last night must have been off, holed up in their room.

"She made me leave," he adds quickly. "She said there was no point in both of us missing the day if I couldn't be useful anyway." Having repeated his wife's words, he furrows his brow; it occurs to him that he may have misunderstood her and failed one of the first tests of his marriage.

"Welcome to the next forty years of your life," says the overinvested man. He and his wife have been at Indigo Bay for two days. Don't get him wrong, it's fine, but they prefer Malliouhana on Antigua, or was it Anguilla?, where they stayed last year. The couple from Miami has friends who swear by Malliouhana.

"Are we the only ones who find the food here pretty subpar?" the overinvested man asks.

The woman from Minneapolis finds the food delicious but outrageously overpriced.

"It's because they have to bring everything in on boats," says the man in the dolphin swim trunks.

"That's just what they say. It's because we're a captive audience," corrects his wife.

"And the service charge is killer."

"When the bill comes, I don't look. I just sign."

"Smart man."

"Almost, honey!" the wife of the man in the dolphin swim trunks says when he serves the ball into the net. The trunks embarrass him, but they were a gift from his wife, and she was so excited about them he didn't want to offend her by returning them, though he suspects she was excited not because she thought these trunks would make him happy, but because they made her happy, because on some level she wants a husband she doesn't have to take seriously. He noted this but said nothing, figuring it would be cruel and pointless to call her attention to the ugliness in intentions she believed to be pure. When they separate three years from now, he will become aware of how many things he noted silently, of how much time he spent smiling at her while rebuking her in his mind.

A discussion is had about the pros and cons of the various excursions offered by the resort. Somebody wonders whether the snorkeling trip to Carnival Cay is decent.

"We went yesterday. You'll see so many fish you'll be sick of them," says a husband from New York.

Excerpted from Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin. Copyright © 2020 by Alexis Schaitkin. Excerpted by permission of Celadon. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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