THE GAUNTLET by James Street
Kirkus Star


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Two thirds of this is good reading, the last third somehow falls apart -- and makes the book as a whole a disappointment. It is a story that has integrity and that needs to be told -- a story of a minister of a protestant denomination (Baptist) -- and his place in a community of our times. We have had a number of stories with priests as central figures; we have had non-fiction portrayals of the type of Papa Was a Preacher and One Foot in Heaven -- but not since LeGrand Cannon's Mighty Fortress and prior to that Lewis' has any modern novel dealt with the subject of a minister of the gospel as a human being. The Gauntlet is almost a very good book. London Wingo is a very convincing and human figure. His confessedly uncertain sense of vocation, his tendency to dramatize himself on the basis of a modicum of success, his false front of security and the pitfalls entailed, all ring true. And there's humor -- and a measure of pathos -- in his and his wife's small bits of by-play, as they try to counterbalance the juggernaut of the little Missouri parish determination to make them play the game their way. It is a good picture of the petty jealousies and rivalries of small town life; of inflated ages and mediocrity rampant; of small generosities and bigness in unexpected places. At the close, the collapse of happiness and the glimmer of rebirth of faith seem artificial and unconvincing, in contrast to the vitality and authenticity of the balance of the story...A wholly new role for Street, whose name is associated with historical panermmde novels of the Deep South.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1945
Publisher: Doubleday, Doran