The Peach Stone


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By Paul Horgan

“To children—as to artists—all life is metaphor.” The genius of Paul Horgan is that he could express life with such charm and intelligence that the resemblances he suggested are themselves clear and honest reflections of reality. These twenty stories, inspired by the diverse backgrounds and experiences of Horgan’s own life, are selected from four decades of writing and arranged, not by time period, but by theme.

  • The first set speaks of childhood, with the poignancy of “To the Mountains,” “Winners and Losers,” “The One Who Wouldn’t Dance,” and “Black Snowflakes.”
  • The second speaks of youth, with the startling vitality of “A Start in Life,” “In Summer’s Name,” “So Little Freedom,” “The Huntsmen,” “The Treasure,” and “National Honeymoon.”
  • The third speaks of maturity, with the seasoned frankness of “The Surgeon and the Nun,” “The Other Side of the Street,” “Tribute,” “The Small Rain,” and the title story.
  • The fourth speaks to age, with the grave wisdom of “The Hacienda,” “Old Army,” “The Head of the House of Wattleman,” “The Devil in the Desert,” and “The Candy Colonel.”

The girls I knew said that if I took a peach stone and held it long enough in my hand, it would sprout… But nobody wanted to hold a peach stone in their hand until it sprouted, to find out, and we used to laugh about it, but I think we believed it. I think I believed it. (Paul Horgan)

Whether the stuff of comedy, tragedy, or irony, the stories of The Peach Stone illuminate life as an adventure of both struggle and significance, and celebrate the divine spark that flickers in the heart of each man, woman, and child.


Paul Horgan (1903–1995) was an American Catholic historian and novelist, praised by David McCullough as “a writer of large vision and many-sidedness” with a matchless “command of language and feeling for human nature.” Author of forty-plus books, including seventeen novels, Horgan received two Pulitzer Prizes (in 1955, for Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History; in 1975, for Lamy of Santa Fe) as well as nineteen honorary degrees and the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal.

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Paperback: 390pp.

ISBN: 978-1685953102