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Category: Book Reviews

Book Review: Breakthrough by Fr. Rob Galea

Father Rob Galea, a Maltese Catholic priest serving in Australia, writes in a highly conversational style about his journey from addiction, depression and anger to a life of faith and ministry. Somewhere between memoir, homily and a Catholic youth group talk, the book documents the path of a priest who speaks quite candidly of his own struggles and who is…

Book Review: The Wars of Heaven by Richard Currey

The most striking aspect of Richard Currey’s collection of stories, The Wars of Heaven, is how from the raw, coarse and tragic lives of working class people in West Virginia we get such richly atmospheric prose. There are two ways to escape the misery of the present: either find refuge in nostalgic images of the past or else in the…

Book Review: Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning

Patrick Canning’s thoroughly quirky novel about a depressed janitor from Idaho who finds himself in the midst of a bizarre game feels like an adult psychedelic take on The Wizard of Oz, or else a literary escape room. Replace Dorothy with Jim, the dog Toto with a scruffy mutt called Mars, the Yellow Brick Road with, in the first part at least,…

Book Review: Luke 17:2 — A Memoir of Abuse, Recovery and Triumph by Michael Emerton

This candid memoir explores how a man who built a successful career in the technology sector as a public relations specialist is forced to confront his repressed childhood memories of abuse from the early 1980’s. In 2002, when faced with the series of investigative reports by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team detailing the systemic abuse of minors by Catholic clergy,…

Book Review: The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold by Evelyn Waugh

British novelist Evelyn Waugh perhaps reveals more about himself through the fictional character of Gilbert Pinfold, a middle-aged novelist who suffers a mental breakdown brought on by the use of sedatives and pain medication, than through any of his other creations. Like Waugh, Mr. Pinfold is a convert to Catholicism who lives at a country estate somewhat withdrawn from society.…

Book Review: Fragments by Jagjeet Sharma

Ottawa-based freelance author and poet Jagjeet Sharma’s newly released anthology Fragments offers poetry that straddles and explores the crossroads of traditional and contemporary society, as well as East and West. Our cultural roots and memories colour how we live in the present day. Sharma’s poetry is cognizant that time forms a continuum and as such, the past bleeds into the present.…

Book Review: The Calumnist Malefesto by Benoit Chartier

Benoit Chartier, the Ottawa area author of the anthology The Calumnist Malefesto, breaks the negative stereotypes often attached to self-publishing, offering readers a skillfully edited collection of engaging and atmospheric prose. Each story is unique, the themes diverse and the language varied–the latter adjusted to fit the tone of the given narrative. There is a reflective morality and spirituality that runs…

Book Review: From Enemy to Friend by Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Amy Eilberg’s book, From Enemy to Friend — Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, seems especially relevant in the era of tribal politics and visceral political discourse, where ideological disagreement often leads to enmity. Drawing from the well of classical religious texts, contemporary communication theory, conflict studies and mediation, Rabbi Eilberg points to the pathways that may lead…

Book Review: The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin

The raw language, powerful and harsh in its unadorned simplicity, matches the desolate landscape, both rural and urban, and the severeness of life for two working class brothers in Willy Vlautin’s novel The Motel Life. Deep loyalty, and a promise made as teenagers to their dying mother to stick together, make Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan inseparable, as they live in…

Book Review: The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

During a period of intense anti-Catholic persecution, a nameless priest wanders through Mexico as a fugitive, trying to evade authorities that have placed a 700 peso bounty on his head. Stemming from pride, mortification and a sense of pastoral mission, the destitute priest hears confessions, anoints the sick and celebrates Mass in the communities he visits. But is father bringing…