Frederick Buechner followed up his classic "Godric" with this tale of a sixth-century saint, Brendan the Navigator, as told by his close friend and a Frederick Buechner followed up his classic "Godric" with this tale of a sixth-century saint, Brendan the Navigator, as told by his close friend and aid Finn. Buechner's faux-Gaelic prose makes the novel somewhat difficult to read at first, but once one gets used to the slightly off-kilter rhythms, the story emerges as one full of humor, fantasy and poignancy. Brendan, taken from his parents at age 1, is raised to be a priest just a generation after St. Patrick has brought Christianity to Ireland. Beliefs in local myths and gods mingle with Christian tenets, sometimes comically and sometimes tragically. After an adventure selecting a new Irish "king," Brendan decides to be a "blue martyr," setting off on two long sea journeys in search of a heaven-like country of the young. He encounters whales, icebergs and, perhaps, Florida. Brendan is a faithful Christian seeking God's plan for his life, even as he stumbles through wrath and regret. This poignant tale is about existential faith and grace and tries to suggest how we can find our own way as we travel the paths of saints....more
These stories mix the author's expertice in the law with a number of SF riffs, including time travel, intergalactic politics and future-shock cryogeniThese stories mix the author's expertice in the law with a number of SF riffs, including time travel, intergalactic politics and future-shock cryogenics and longevity. The results are consistently entertaining and thought-provoking. The writing style mimics the author's own speaking style (at least as how I remember it from 35 years ago) so acutely that it's impossible to read these stories without hearing his voice in my head. I especially liked the story on patent trolls, gene manipulation and biologically induced truth-telling (a heady mix, all in one story!) as well as the story that explores the inadequacy and sadness of representing a world in a federation where travel, and decisions, take years. I hope he publishes more. ...more
Roxanne Gray's "An Untamed State" refers both to Haiti, the setting of about half of this novel, and the heroine, a lawyer named Mireille who is kidnaRoxanne Gray's "An Untamed State" refers both to Haiti, the setting of about half of this novel, and the heroine, a lawyer named Mireille who is kidnapped, tortured and raped in Haiti because of her father's wealth. The novel reveals on the first page that she survives the ordeal, for this novel is not about suspense. Rather, the author probes how a strong, independent Haitian-American woman with a career, husband and child finds herself at the mercy of "The Commander" and his cohorts, and how she must recover from the ordeal.
The novel delves deeply into Mireille'scharacter -- we see her youth in Haiti and Nebraska, her relationship with her siblings, her domineering, demanding self-made father and the student who woos her. Gay skilfully interweaves the backstory into the present, when she is held captive, and the future, when she begins her recovery on her in-laws' farm. She also probes the enormous disparity between the wealthy few and the masses in Haiti, but what's more important is how this disparity feeds into the incredible brutality of the kidnappers toward Mireille and other women. The novel alternates between Mireille's first-person account and a third-person account of her husband, who is also a victim and who finds himself unable to cope with his wife's trauma.
The brutality in parts of this novel are difficult if not impossible to read. Are these passages necessary? Probably. But what's more important is Mireille's passion for life, how it nearly gets snuffed out entirely and how her spirit brings her back far enough to resume some kind of life, though much different. The prose style is terse and incisive, even in passages that look back nostalgically at the life of a family out of place in the United States but at the pinnacle of society in Haiti. The violence makes this book sometimes difficult to read, but Mireille's character makes the book difficult to put down as well....more