GOD by Stephen Hayward


An Anthology of Fiction
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 Each of 19 different writers gives us a take on the divine- -with more points of view and tones of voice than in the whole of the Old Testament. Feeling that ``in the last ten years, religion has re-entered the public consciousness,'' the editors set out to see what the current literary scene could make of it. They might well have been surprised by what they found. Many stories here are typical expressions of the anger and disillusionment that have pervaded most modern treatments of the subject, but there are quite a few wild cards in the deck--and these from unlikely sources. In Aamer Hussein's ``Your Children,'' a secular Indonesian intellectual watches her children grow up to embrace the Islamic precepts she'd left behind, then throw themselves into the political turmoil that surrounded the Gulf War of 1991. There is also plenty of feminist angst: both Tony Grist (``The White Lady'') and John Wakeman (``Sherry at the Rectory'') write of the frustration of women who want to serve a Church that won't ordain them, and Maureen Duffy's ``Last Priestess'' crucifies herself--literally--in a show of contempt for Christianity. Joyce Carol Oates's ``Work in Progress'' manages to incarnate the awkward soullessness of the suburban classes in Michael O'Meara, a twentysomething Candide who drifts from seminary to medical school to home without picking up much of anything along the way. Christopher Hope (``My Stigmata'') and James Morrow (``The Soap Opera'') both approach the subject for its comic potential--the book of Job as a sitcom, the stigmata as an embarrassment to agnosticism--with little wit and less grace. Only David Plante's recollections of a lover's suicide (``The Space About God'') manage to evoke a real mystery that is all the more palpable in that the narrator himself cannot understand what has happened and cannot rest in his ignorance. No one else seems to convey the proper obsession. A very mixed bag, with a few gems amid the dreck.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-85242-259-9
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993


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