Thursday, August 21, 2014

As Kingfishers Catch Fire in The Father's Tale

Dear Misfits,
We did it!  We’ve finished The Father’s Tale .  At 1076 pages, it is decidedly the longest novel we’ve read to date. It was also the heaviest novel we’ve read.  I think I put on several pounds of muscle mass just carrying it around.  It is definitely a book you would want to have on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad!  But what a story!  We gave it some big thumbs up and a few small thumbs down.
The big thumbs up were:
            -It is a sweeping novel that spans continents, discusses wide-ranging literary subjects and Catholic authors, while expressing a deep understanding of both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic psyche. 
            -It is one of the most faith-filled Catholic novels we have read.  Every aspect of the Faith was treated with respect and complete honesty. 
            -It manifests a deep love and respect for the Russian people and their Orthodox beliefs and practice.
            -It is a “primer” on Russian authors and literature.  Michael O’Brien is an expert in that regard.
Some small thumbs down:
-The story begins in a book store called “The Kingfisher” in Halcyon, Ontario:  population 1200.  Misfit Rieckens noted that no book store in a town of 1200 would ever survive.  Misfit Chris Hagen, proprietor of  Loome Theological Books,  nodded in vigorous agreement!
            -At least 200 pages could have been cut/edited without really affecting the story.
            -Some events were beyond credulity as when the hero is captured by Russian Intelligence agents, tortured, and then “freed” by a Chinese counter-intelligence operation.  One or our Misfits did remark, “But hey, miracles do happen!” 
I should mention that our meeting was held on Claret Farm, home of Loome Theological Books.  It was a perfect setting for our discussion:  outdoors on a warm summer evening sipping cold beer, munching pretzels (all supplied by Misfit Hagen), and arguing the merits of a novel! 
But it does get better than that…we also welcomed Misfit Druffner back from his highly successful medical mission to Bwambo, Tanzania.  (He took The Father’s Tale with him on his iPad!)
An added pleasure was a wonderful recitation by Misfit Wessel of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”.   Hopkins and Wessel at their best!

Now to the future:
This month we are reading Lucy Beckett’s latest novel, The Leaves are Falling. It is a sequel to the author’s A Postcard from the Volcano.  (I am told that the novel “stands alone” and that you don’t really have to have read the first novel…though it helps.)  I am very excited about reading this novel.  Lucy Beckett is a literary treasure with a Catholic sensibility.  I look forward to discussing it with you at our next meeting on September 10, 2014 at the St. Thomas More Library in the Church of St. Michael, Stillwater, Minnesota.  As always, our meeting will start at 7:00 pm.
Yours in Christ,

Misfit Buzz

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