EARTHLY BREAD by Michael Mewshaw


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A likable morality tale about a jumpy Catholic priest, in a crisis of faith, and a bleak bionic ""deprogrammer"" of youthful Fundamentalists. They battle for the soul of a Yale drop-out. A rich and dreadful set of parents have hired Meadlow, the deprogrammer, to detach their son Thomas (now ""Tiagatha"") from his Bible-toting community. Father Tony is to go along to ""provide a Catholic influence."" In a crumbling motel on the Texas plains, Meadlow, out to squash the slugs of unreason, begins to work on the boy they've actually kidnapped. The motel, on land God made ""after He shot His wad up north,"" is owned by Billie, a former circus fat lady who cuddles armadillos destined to become flowerpots, and her husband Zack, who in winter wears ""terminal underwear."" Soothed by the genially profane pair, and only dimly disturbed by the resident whores, Father Tony edgily watches Meadlow apply the thumbscrews to belief while Tiagatha holds firm. But when Meadlow utilizes force, Father Tony, like Tiagatha, expresses his faith via action and frees the boy, while Meadlow is accidentally (?) killed. Mewshaw is at his best in light burlesque with a grain of irony and his originals are hilarious. However, the message-bearing Tiagatha is a dead eye of the clash, and one can hardly wait to get back to the motel and its U Et Yet Cafe where cowboys dip their combs in water glasses.

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 1976
Publisher: Random House