A WASTE OF SHAME by Edward McNamara


Email this review


Here is what might be called a ""pre-Vatican Council Catholic novel"" if only the author were true to his stereotypes. All the atrocious pasteboard figures are here; the ""most popular boy"" who becomes a priest; the ""prettiest girl"" who becomes a nun after worldly love fails her; the living martyr Catholic mother; and the father, super-patriot, bigot, company fink. The novel is set in the early '50's, presumably in Danbury, Conn, and is concerned with the poor fortunes of one ""shanty"" Irish Catholic family named Devlin. Inexplicably, the most outstanding public figure of the day (apart from Bishop Sheen), for the kind of characters McNamara is writing about, receives only one oblique reference--the ""junior Senator from Wisconsin."" As a period piece then the novel has further limitations. McNamara offers no point of view toward the people and way of life pictured here. His book is neither pious nor condemnatory though he writes with occasional narrative power and with deep, if misplaced, feeling--(making fun of Lourdes ""holy"" water if you believe in it seems a little gratuitous, if not retarded, at this stage). A Waste of Shame is a book written in a vacuum exhibiting arrested development on many levels--theological, sociological, psychological, etc. etc., ad tedium.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1967
Publisher: Vanguard