CATHOLIC GIRLS by Sumrall Amber Coverdale & Patrice Vecchione--Eds.


Email this review


Not, as the title suggests, about Catholic girlhood per se, but rather about girls and young women who rebel against their religious upbringing. Fifty-two stories, poems, and memoirs comprise this anthology, which lets little stand in the way of its political agenda. A handful of pieces speak well of ordinary faith, most notably Sharon Meyer's delightful ""The Forbidden List,"" about a bishop who encourages intellectual freedom (""I rollerskated home, weighed down with forbidden books and serf-esteem""). Mostly, however, the authors are gunning for the Church. Jane Kremareiter writes of a girl who expurgates the Bible of sexist language; Maura Stanton remembers bitchy nuns; editor Sumrall, a poet from California (as is co-editor Vecchione), describes a priest in the confessional who rants about French kissing. A poem by Kathleen Guillaume mixes Christian imagery and violence (""Her hairpin scoops into me/scrapes me clean/...Soon it will be May/the month of Mary""). Joyce Goldenstern offers a depressing tale of physical misfits (""My father is missing a leg. My mother is missing a breast"") and parochial school. There are some big names here, all offering book excerpts: Mary Gordon, Louise Erdrich, Francine Prose, Mary McCarthy. Otherwise, the editors, using a narrow-band magnet (""we placed calls for material in many feminist publications and writers' magazines""), draw in material largely from small-press publications and original contributions. The overriding emotional tone is drizzly, with rumblings of thunder and occasional outbursts of lighting, encapsulated perfectly in the anthology's last sentence, from Kristina McGrath's ""Housework"": ""I should have been a pagan, she said to herself, a few years later, and began a rosary. . . as she caught her hand in the wringer and screamed."" ""Even now,"" the editors declare, ""the church is still threatened by our voices."" Perhaps--but this anthology will provoke more yawns than yelps.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1992
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Plume/Dutton