OF FICTION AND FAITH by W. Dale Brown

OF FICTION AND FAITH

Twelve American Writers Talk about Their Vision and Work

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Cozy fireside conversations with a dozen contemporary writers on their faith, carefully arranged and thoughtfully conceived. Brown (English/Calvin Coll.) has gathered together conversations with 12 Christian writers, most of whom say they are uncomfortable with that term. The authors range from those renowned in Christian circles (Frederick Buechner and Walter Wangerin) to the more widely famous (Garrison Keillor, who is very provocative and outspoken about his vision for the church, and southern hellion Will Campbell). Brown also includes writers who are not yet household names, like newcomer Elizabeth Dewberry and longtime novelist Doris Betts, and popular authors most readers probably don't think of as Christian, like mystery writer Robert Goldsborough. Compiler Brown is fully engaged in these conversations, but allows the writers to speak for themselves (his introduction is less than three pages long, a refreshing brevity). Implicitly, his subtext seems to be that for these writers, there are a dozen different ways of manifesting their faith in their work. Brown is very critical of the throw-away fiction found in most Christian bookstores, and is intrigued by the fact that some of these bookstores won't even stock meaty novelists such as Campbell or Buechner. The writers discuss their stylistic and theological influences (Graham Greene, Annie Dillard, and Walker Percy win high marks from many). They reflect upon their perceived audiences, occasional hate mail, and stinging reviews; it is difficult, it seems, to write fiction with a Christian message when many Christian readers seem to prefer simplistic morality tales with squeaky-clean language, and when ``secular'' readers are often turned off by theology. Brown has included a useful bibliography for each writer, pointing to further pleasures. The book's only real flaw is its fairly narrow perspective: All but one of the subjects are mainline Protestant (the exception being Jon Hassler, who is Catholic), most are male, and all are white. (12 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8028-4313-1
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Eerdmans
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997




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