Tung's Reviews > Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul

Father Joe by Tony Hendra
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's review
Jan 09, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: memoirs
Read in January, 2005

Tony Hendra is a British satirist with a Forrest Gump-like lifetime. He performed in college with John Cleese and Graham Chapman (Monty Python fame); was editor of the National Lampoon; was in This is Spinal Tap; attended school with Stephen Hawking and other famous people. This memoir (supposedly) focuses on his spirituality: his early years when he wanted to become a monk, his lifetime straying from his faith; and his return to his faith in his later years – all as the direct result of knowing a monk named Father Joe, a caring saint who acted as his emotional anchor. In general, this book disappointed me every which way. First, as a satirist and semi-famous humorist, this book was not funny ANYWHERE. Second, this book suffers the problem shared by most memoirs – and that is the inability of the author to truly make his/her experience relatable or remotely interesting to the reader; this failed on both accounts. Thirdly, the book uses Father Joe more as a straight man from which to pose existential questions, complaints against the Catholic Church of England, and/or rants about society, organized religion, and culture, than as an honest wrangling of faith; many of the conversations simply aren’t believable as actual instances or dialogue between people. Lastly, the memoir is less of a way to explore a man’s faith than it is a way for the author to excuse his lifetime of drugs, failed marriages, and general bad behavior – his first marriage failed because of a spiritual issue and not because of rampant infidelity; he became a satirist because he believed laughter is from God and not because he enjoyed the attention and fame; he spent his lifetime with drugs not because he enjoyed them, but because he had lost his faith, etc. I was looking for an honest account of a struggle of faith; this turned out to be a straightforward memoir. Big pass on this one.
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