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The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Orphaned at age four and raised by her black-clad, rosary-mumbling, preoccupied grandmother, Frankka discovered the ability to perform the stigmata as a way to attract her grandmother's attention. Now twenty-eight, Frankka's still using this extraordinary talent, crisscrossing the country with "The Death and Resurrection Show," a Catholic-themed traveling freak show and ca ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by HarperOne (first published 2006)
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Anna (Bananas)
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The idea I always remember from this is: “You’re given a mythology in this life, the way you’re given a body, a family, a country. You can reject it if you like - starve it, laugh in its face, run away into exile - but it’s still your mythology. There’s always the chance for redemption.”

Also, I remember every book someone borrowed from me and didn’t return. I want my copy of this back, dammit.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I think the main reason I liked this one is because it's different. I have never before read a story about a traveling religious freak show. It's primarily focused on Frankka, a young woman who learned at an early age that she can exhibit the stigmata (bleeding from her palms) at will (though only when she's really hungry. Rather than seeing it as a special kind of miracle, she sees it as a trick to perform as part of the show. Frankka makes light of her "gift," but deep down, she's a true belie ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
I loved all of the stories about the saints. The characters were fascinating. It really left me wanting more story line.
As for Ariel Gore, I could quote her all day. She has an amazing way with words:
"If you've abdictated your right to create your own life story, vow to take it back. If you're ruled by your posessions, give them away; by a toxic lover, diplomatically take your leave; by addictions, wean yourself with compassion, and if that doesn't work, go find a quiet shelter on a mountaintop,
Dec 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ariel Gore fans, 'lapsed' Catholics, freak show fans, and those searching for their own path to God
Shelves: spiritual
Well...I liked this book. I think it was very much written in Gore's voice, similar in tone and theme to "Atlas of the Human Heart". I didn't like it as much, though. The main character, Frankka, was intentionally shrouded and hard to get to know, and you only got brief, stereotypical glances at the other members of the traveling troupe. The parts I enjoyed most were Gore's Saint stories - she boiled the life stories of several of the more notorious saints into quirky, brief little stories that ...more
Kristine Dorrain
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book read like a Catholic primer. Plot was lacking- felt like an oddly annotated National Enquirer story.
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show is about Frankka, a lapsed Catholic with a rather peculiar psychic ability: while fasting, she can concentrate on her wrists and make them bleed. For seven years she lives on the road with a performance troupe that includes a drag queen who levitates while dressed like a Catholic nun, a fortune teller and former battered wife with a small child, a fire-breather, and a bearded woman. They rarely stay in the same town or city for a week, and satirizing the ...more
Oct 07, 2007 rated it liked it
I really like Ariel Gore so she gets my rose colored glasses (although not an extra star--I'm stingy with those stars). Traveling Death is a story about a woman who learns to manifest the stigmata to inspire her miserably devout and depressed grandmother to get up off the couch and get food for their empty cabinets. When we take up the story she has joined with a motley crew and performs nightly in a modern-day traveling roadshow. While the whole arch of the story doesn't go anywhere profound, t ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The main character of this book -- the narrator -- is a 7 year member of a traveling show that presents acts that connect to the Biblical stories and beliefs of death, resurrection, and the meaning of our existence on this earth. Saxophones are played. A man ascends (he presents as a woman) the summit. Someone sings. and our main character rises her arms to reveal the stigmata.

Unless she's eaten that day. Then, it won't work.

The time flies by, the performers interact, the money is tight, the lif
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
I don’t even know how to review this book because I have absolutely no understanding of it whatsoever. Guys, I don’t like harshly judging books, but this is among the worst books I’ve completed in a really long time. I just don’t get it.

The book is about a band of traveling performers with some unique talents - talents that end up turning the religious world topsy turvy, labeling them either Saints or Sinners. I thought it was going to be great. Maybe I didn’t get it because of all the religion
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can’t get over the fact that Ariel Gore weird this book in three weeks. It feels very well researched, and as a recovered catholic myself I really enjoyed the protagonist. The last 20 or so pages lose a bit (I won’t include a spoiler here, but it’s just a bit too much) however overall a great and quick read. One short afternoon poolside was all it took to tackle this one as it moves at such a rapid pace.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Standard enough personal struggle and redemption story that's framed within an old-school, saint-heavy catholic mythology, with some interesting aside stories about said saints, though I can't help but wonder if I've missed some greater depth for not being versed in or sharing the faith. ...more
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
Intriguing concept. Witty & captivating. It is written in such a cynical, dry way, but it is still filled with hope somehow. So much so that although it is poking fun at everything, you just want and have to believe!
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
My favorite part of this novel is the version of the Lives of the Saints that Frankka tells. It seems the most real portrayal of what these people may have been like to actually deal with! I love it.
interspersed between tales of saints that have received the gift of stigmata is one woman's struggles with the gift of grace and her own journey of sainthood. (light, fun read) ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good. Had a rocky start, I thought it was just too kitsch, but it definitely grew on me!

Sweet, informative, subtly deep.
Nathan Brant
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
What and odd, delightful, and educational romp. File it under subversive Catholic fiction.
Nov 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lapsed catholics, circus performers, stigmata obsessionists, fans of michelle tea
Shelves: read-in-2007
i wanted this to be better than it actually was. i think i also wanted it to be longer than it actually was, which could have been the problem. okay, so the story is, there's this girl who manages to give herself stigmata through the power of her mind or something. she doesn't seem to be especially religious, although she clearly believs (in a kind of catholicism, i think). there's some issue where maybe her grandmother (who is her guardian) thinks she's evil because of the stigmata or something ...more
The title and cover of this book caught my eye initially. Inside the book, I was intrigued by the Catholic figurines before each new chapter as well as the periodic appearance of stories of several of the saints. The idea of a Catholic-themed traveling "freak show" consisting of various kinds of misfits also convinced me that this book just might be a good read.

After reading this book, I am not disappointed. Ariel Gore writes with humor and honesty. She tackles with grace the themes of belief an
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
The fact that Frankka is able to spontaneously display the stigmata is interesting enough for a book; the fact that she uses extreme hunger to manifest it is even better; but, that she does it as part of a traveling troupe makes it darn near impossible NOT to read.

There are several interesting aspects to the way the book is written. First of all, the first page of each chapter has a statue of a saint at the top of the page. While I was able to identify some and not others, I found myself wonde
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I set out reading this book wanting for entertainment, I don't read a whole lot of fiction. What I got was a deeper understanding of a side of Catholicism I hadn't delved into before. My mother's family is "recovering" Catholic turned Protestant so I never had the opportunity to learn much about the saints. I never had to go to confession. The saint stories reminded me of the multiple deities of my own Paganism, so I related to them in that way. This furthered my appreciation of Catholicism and ...more
Colleen Thorndike
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Catholics, Gnostics, People who like Traveling Freak Shows
So far, I'm about 2/3 through it, it's not bad. It's very interestingly written. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet... check back in a couple days, or maybe just tomorrow if I get home early today...
***This does have spoilers, so if you want to read the book, don't read this review***
So I'm still fairly ambivalent about this one. I think the concept of the novel is interesting--7 weirdly talented folks traveling the country in a painted caravan and a hatchback performing their Catholic theme
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: explorers of faith
it's really tempting to give this 4 stars because the saint stories are so wonderful. it's best they're peppered through the book -- an entire book dedicated to these vignettes would probably be a little dry -- but every time i saw a new saint story i internally squeeed.

there are several interesting characters here, but we never learn too much about any of them except frankka. i wish the book had been a little longer, to explore these characters a wee bit more. and frankka -- oh, we learn about
Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a pick-me-up in life
Shelves: fiction
although this novel revolves around catholic religious themes, it's a great book for anyone who needs something to make them feel as though life is really worth it again. the story line is separated into three quite separate parts: there's the present day predicament that's occuring at the present time the story, then there's the past that's gradually revealed, and then the main character, Frankka, writes these stories about the saints and their lives, how it lead to them becomming a saint, and ...more
Holly Troup
Jun 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Everyone has to have a strategy, don't you think? The question it a war strategy, or a love strategy?"

Frances Catherine, a.k.a. Frankka, is a lapsed Catholic who has the extraordinary ability to perform the stigmata. She exhibits this talent as a cast member of the traveling "Death and Resurrection Show"---a Catholic themed cabaret.But when Frankka finds her photo and story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, she is no longer sure of herself, and she feels compelled to
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel, spirituality
I loved this book! One of the best I've read in a long time! Interspersed throughout the text are stories of saints, told in modern language and with a quirky, modern twist.
First person, this book takes the reader straight into the heart of an orphan who learned to manifest the stigmata. She travels with a band of performers with equally mysterious gifts. The plot unfolds and draws us into their world of being on the road, sleeping in hotels, and performing the strange and compelling Traveling D
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bob-s-book
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2008 rated it liked it
This book had a really great premise. Orphaned girl teaches herself the stigmata to get her extremely religious grandmothers attention. As she gets older she travels around with a crew and performs the “Death and resurrection, show” until the media gets involved and she must question the meaning of her life. I like the story, although I didn’t really care for any of the characters other then “Frankka” the main character. I really felt like it had all the parts for something really big and moving ...more
Jun 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a quick read, and not a difficult work to tackle, conceptually. Honestly, if I hadn't been experiencing my own spiritual renewal at the time I was reading this, it may have been more of a "pleasant lark" than a moving read. It's all about the timing.

The saint stories were my favorite sections. The voice behind the writing was convincing and the stories were re-written humorously but rather poignantly, as well.

All in all, it was a good book for me to read, though it is dif
Ryan Mishap
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novel
As long as she is hungry enough, Franka can bleed at will from her palms. A trick to gain the attention of her devout Catholic grandmother, who raised her, Franka now is a part of a traveling alternative circus. The raggedy group has run a DIY tour for seven years, but when a reporter prints that Franka truly has stigmata, the attention of religious nuts propels her out of the rut she’s in and on a sort of spiritual quest. I would have liked a longer book—more and deeper details about her grandm ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
this book is good for anyone on the road. or people with religious upbringings who are struggling to make sense of christian/catholic extremes. its basically about a girl who learns when she is young that she can spontaneously bleed from her palms. so eventually she teams up with a friend and starts a traveling freakshow/circus and brings her stigmata act to the US. quick read. lots of religious references. ...more
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ARIEL GORE is the author of We Were Witches (The Feminist Press, 2017), The End of Eve (Hawthorne Books, 2014), and numerous other books on parenting, the novel The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, the memoir Atlas of the Human Heart, and the writer’s guide How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happi ...more

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