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The Book of Bebb

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  263 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize finalist Frederick Buechner's quartet of outrageously witty, inspirational Bebb novels in one volume.
Paperback, 544 pages
Published October 16th 2001 by HarperOne (first published 1979)
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May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
The Book of Bebb is a tetralogy of the dubious Rev Bebb who runs a religious diploma mill. It is the first Buechner book that has failed to impress me.

This is a review of only the first story, Lion Country. Buechner wrote it between 6-8 weeks in 1971. The characters are not likeable; the main plot is diffused by extraneous layering of dreams or imaginary drama scenes that seem over-stretched.

Leo Bebb ordains ministers and doles out theological degrees to any man (never woman) who completes a co
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is easy enough to categorize this as a work of fiction - but from there...? It is witty and zany with a bizarre cast of characters who say and do outlandish things at times and yet there are times when the author slips in profound insights and truths about human nature that really hit home. I suppose the human 'condition' is one we all have in common and as such, something we can all relate to. In many ways this anthology of four novels is like life itself - not a straightforward story but on ...more
May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who want to read the most criminally underrated writer in history.
The real C.S. Lewis. William Faulkner meets Walker Percy meets Breece D'J Pancake. HILARIOUS. Amazing. Life-changing. This is a horrible review, but it's 100% correct.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow! Four novels back-to-back. One would think the reader could tire of the characters, the style, the themes, but it didn't happen for me. In fact, it felt more like one novel to me, and I became enamored with the characters that Buechner created. One would be hard-pressed to find one normal person in the book, perhaps Antonia's (the narrator) nephew Chris, but all the rest are so quirky, so interesting, and so odd that I kept wondering what bizarre occurrence would follow the one I just read. ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While reading John Irvings memoir, “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed”, he mentioned “The Book of Bebb” which is really a compilation of four novels written over a number of years in the 70’s. I’ll have to get back to Irving’s work, now that I’ve devoured Frederick Buechner’s.
I haven’t been so challenged by a book since P.D. James’s, “The Children of Men” or Dostoyevski’s, “Crime and Punishment”.
The descriptive writing, characterizations, wording and references paint brilliant pictures. I will now be
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
I finished Lion Country today (the first of the quartet). In a nutshell, it's a story of rebirth, or conversion. It's on every page: allusions to the underworld, to the act of creation, to death and life, to the harrowing of hell, to the church ("Sharon"). It never stops functioning as a story, however. It impresses me how many levels this story operates on.

The thing I keep asking is this: Is Christianity the paramount mystery here, or is life the paramount mystery? Is Christianity the reality,
Craig Childs
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
I usually enjoy Buechner's novels, and a lot of readers consider the four volumes that comprise THE BOOK OF BEBB to be his finest. But they didn't work for me at all.

These books lack the succint, straightforward, proignant style of Buechner's later novels like SON OF LAUGHTER and ON THE ROAD WITH THE ARCHANGEL. Instead, these stories are an uneasy mix of
slapstick humor, theological rumination, existential angst, and melodrama.

It was hard to care for the characters, who are either overly passi
Craig Childs
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually enjoy Buechner's novels, and a lot of readers consider the four volumes that comprise THE BOOK OF BEBB to be his finest. But they didn't work for me at all.

These books lack the succint, straightforward, proignant style of Buechner's later novels like SON OF LAUGHTER and ON THE ROAD WITH THE ARCHANGEL. Instead, these stories are an uneasy mix of
slapstick humor, theological rumination, existential angst, and melodrama.

It was hard to care for the characters, who are either overly passi
I could never write a review to do this book justice. As an omnibus of four novels linked by the Bebb, the charlatan pastor I tend to think of these four as one book. Buechner's characters are deeply flawed people, struggling mightily to find a way to live their broken lives with some sense of integrity. Some seem to find a toehold on the ladder of redemption; others fail miserably. And throughout all the various stories, Bebb weaves in and out; a most imperfect man whom, seemingly inexplicable, ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have had this book on my shelf for awhile and finally got to it. In many ways I really don't know what to think of it. It weaves together a tapestry of life and death, faith and unbelief, and sin and virtue. The narrator of the book, Antonio Parr begins by attempting to write an expose on Lou Bebb who he thinks is a religious charlatan. Considering that this is where it starts, it is surprising where it ends up. It not necessarily a feel good read. It is perhaps more sad then anything. But gre ...more
David Meldrum
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Beautifully written, comic-tragic story of the itinerant preacher-evangelist Bebb and the chaos of his family life and ministry. Buechner beautifully switches tones with effortless ease My only criticism is really that reading all four of these books back-to-back as I did doesn't allow each story to settle as it perhaps they were designed to be written. Still a fine acheivement.
Mark Robert
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading Buechner. His characters are zaney, but very human. The situations he creates are highly imaginative and comic, but there is a fine line of redemptive grace that permeates through the narrative of these quirky, odd characters. This is my second time reading this set of novels. What I picked up this time around was the longing for home.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
A crazy story that would not be as enjoyable if not written by Buechner. His outlook on life shines through and greatly affects the way this story goes. I appreciate his ability to use all sorts of language and not feeling that he can't because of his role as a pastor.
Patrick Mulcahy
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I made it through Lion Country, and by the end really enjoyed it. But the second section just got to be a bit much for me, so I gave up on it. very strange characters, to say the least. Everything else I've read by Buechner I have loved.
Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not too long ago, I read The Book of Bebb. As a huge fan of Mr. Buechner, I had read more of his non-fiction than fiction. But I'm so glad I read this. It was a journey more than anything else and kind of like life, you never knew what was coming around the corner.
Evan Hays
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Pretty good stuff. Humorous at times. Read these a while ago, so I'm a big foggy, but from what I recall their strength was in pointing out the real life of Christians: we are people who have weaknesses and doubts and fears and foibles, but Jesus saves us all.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really hated to see this series end. Buechner really made you care about the characters, which in my opinion is the sign of a great writer. This contains all four of the Leo Bebb novels. They each stand alone, but really should be read first to last, which you can do thanks to this anthology.
Lonnie Massey
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This group of novels tell the story of Leo Bebb, his daughter, and the reporter whose life becomes hopelessly entangled in theirs. Leo Bebb is a thoroughly despicable character, but you can't help loving him. It's ultimately a story of grace.
Jan 21, 2014 added it
I believe I read this years ago. I will check it out again.
Weirdly good. Source of the line "I've been washed in the shit of the horse"
Jay Colle
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this set of books. Buechner is a great writer and incredibly diverse. Yes, I am a fan. The gushing ends now.
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Aug 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Off-beat characters and unexpected plot lines kept Ken and me reading this collection of books aloud the first year we were married.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Quirky. Fun. Even decades later the characters pop into my consciousness, especially Bebb himself. Who is this guy? Genius? Con man? Lunatic? All of the above???
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
5/4 be with you. toward the end, seemed like 100 pages to go. and even at the end. mullable.
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Pretty good. Took me a while to get into, which is understandable, as it is actually four books. Love Feast, the third, was my favorite.
Ben Fredrick
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
A really well-written, enjoyable book on so many levels. But really really challenging from a spiritual perspective. In some sense it is very "raw" and not for everyone. It shook me up.
Greg Daniel
rated it it was amazing
Feb 02, 2012
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Jun 08, 2014
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Frederick Buechner is a highly influential writer and theologian who has won awards for his poetry, short stories, novels and theological writings. His work pioneered the genre of spiritual memoir, laying the groundwork for writers such as Anne Lamott, Rob Bell and Lauren Winner.

His first book, A Long Day's Dying, was published to acclaim just two years after he graduated from Princeton. He entere
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