KING WINDOM by John Farris


Email this review


King Windom is a surprise from this author. His first novel was Harrison High (1959) which exploited the tribal rites and indolent savagery extent among the ordinary students of a mid-Western blackboard jungle. It was a noisy fictional expose and written in a noisome prose style. King Windom could easily have been as intentionally shocking because tent meeting evangelism and faith healing are redolent of hysterical fakery. However there is little of the skepticism in the author which made Elmer Gantry the showcase of Lewis' cynicism and the prototype of fictional fundamentalists. The character from which the novel takes its name has the power to heal through prayer and the laying on of hands. He's a Southern, self-taught, Bible preacher and, throughout the long book, his behavior and his powers become steadily more Christ-like. The parallels between Christ and his disciples and Windom and his entourage are too transparent to be art, but Farris has restrained his storytelling and increased his vocabulary since Harrison High. He makes Windom interesting as a character and the public relations mechanics that turned the evangelist into a messiah are fascinating, odd-ball insights in themselves. Windom never becomes soiled by the vagaries of promoters; his commitment to his ministry is total. Before his inevitable destruction, a lot of contemporary revival-knowhow is explored. The salvation of souls is an uncomfortable theme in modern America, but there is a sales potential and it lies South.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1966
Publisher: Trident