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Tag: Catholic Novel

Book Review: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Sarah Miles is a saint. She’s also an adulterer who labels herself “a bitch and a fake.” Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair, narrated in the first-person, tells the story of how Sarah’s embittered and fanatically envious ex-lover pursues her following the end of their romance. That plot provides the opening for Greene to explore the themes…

Feuilleton (2): A reading from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood

This is an audio recording of a scene from Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood. Hazel Motes, a tormented and blinded preacher of the fledgling “Church Without Christ” is persistently haunted by that “ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of his mind” — a figure he tries to escape, yet can’t. In this scene Hazel Motes…

Book Review: Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan

Father David Anderton is the new parish priest of the economically depressed Scottish coastal town of Dalgarnock. He’s thoughtful and book-smart. But he’s also naive and demonstrates poor judgment. When he ignores the principle of maintaining boundaries in pastoral ministry and befriends two troubled teens, he hurtles towards disaster. Page by page, the reader sees with growing clarity that Father…

Feuilleton (1): A reading from Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock

This is an excerpt from Graham Greene’s 1938 novel Brighton Rock read by me, as part of a new series of audio recordings entitled Feuilleton, sampling works of twentieth century literature.┬áIn this scene, the young and naive Rose is grappling with the recent suicide of her sociopath husband — who almost took her down with him along his dark, destructive…

Book Review: Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

A chance encounter can change the course of a life. That’s what happens to Ida Arnold in Graham Greene’s 1938 novel Brighton Rock. On a Whitsun holiday weekend, she has a fling with a frightened stranger on the cusp of death. Sun-drenched Brighton, with throngs of visitors from London enjoying a long weekend by the sea, is the seemingly innocuous…

My article in the National Catholic Reporter — 20th-century Catholic authors in search of grace

This morning the U.S.-based National Catholic Reporter (NCR) published my piece exploring the complicated Catholic faith of four 20th century authors: Greene, O’Connor, Spark and Waugh. These four are iconic twentieth century British and American writers and novelists who I’ve often reviewed on my website. By publishing in NCR, I can share with a broader audience reflections on the faith-based…

Book Review: A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark’s 1988 novel — a drama, a mystery and a comedy in approximately equal measure — is in some ways a nostalgic, yet unsanitised reflection on the London publishing industry of the fifties. We travel back to postwar London, still pockmarked by the Second World War. Our guide on this journey is Mrs. Hawkins — an ageing insomniac in…

Book Review: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

What happens when something that you don’t understand and want to escape ends up pulling you in and throws your whole world off balance? That’s the question at the heart of Flannery O’Connor’s darkly comic novel Wise Blood. We meet Hazel Motes, a World War II veteran. He’s pursued by Christ, and he is desperate to evade him. Then there’s…

Book Review: Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

Death is humanity’s common denominator and also the great equalizer. In her 1959 novel Memento Mori, Dame Muriel Spark uses sharp language and imagery to make her many characters face the fear of the one inevitable event in life that they would most desire to avoid. Spark dissects with the keenest scalpel her characters. She pulls away the thin veneer…

Book Review: Ivan’s Choice by Kathy Clark

Canadian author Kathy Clark’s new novel Ivan’s Choice tells a Holocaust story set in a country four thousand miles away. The Holocaust remains the most jarring period in living memory, at least in the West, but a memory that is fading as the number of elderly survivors dwindle. These two aspects of the novel’s setting — a distant time and…