Books in Brief

June 2022

“The only thing worse than my nerves was my curiosity,” the late novelist Harry Crews reveals near the end of his 1978 memoir, just reissued as a Penguin Classic, “which had always been untempered by pity or compassion.” His compulsion is the reader’s reward. In this vivid account of growing up in rural Georgia around the time of the Great Depression, Crews draws from closely observed moments of familial strife and communal connection to create an indelible portrait of a place and its people. A bout with polio and a near-fatal scalding are among Crews’s own travails, and though poverty and violence are as inescapable as the weather, this elegiac, exquisitely told story is also filled with humor and love—indeed, compassion, contrary to the author’s claims. Featuring a new foreword by Tobias Wolff.  

A Childhood
The Biography of a Place

Harry Crews
Penguin Classics
$16 | 192 pp.

 

A farmer tills the soil when he notices that it needs to be renewed, enabling it to best bear fruit. Just the same, the Church must constantly be attentive to movements of grace so that it can be cultivated for fruitfulness. Open to the echoes of Vatican II and aligned with the mission of Pope Francis, Richard Lennan’s new book, Tilling the Church, lays out an ecclesiology for today. The Church is an unfinished project, he writes, constantly tilled by grace through the Holy Spirit—that is, made more authentic, aided in its growth, and formed truer to its mission. The Church must be self-critical and responsive in order to actualize this tilling. As times change and the Spirit moves, so too must the Church continually respond and convert. Lennan’s theological endeavor, an expression of his own love for the Church, is for anyone who wants to see the Church thrive now and into the future.

Tilling the Church
Theology for an Unfinished Project

Richard Lennan
Liturgical Press
$29.95 | 288 pp.

 

For the fawn taking its first steps, the “open / meadow is spread with harm,” but also with nourishment. For the convert playing hide-and-seek, the urge rises to say “here I am.” Melody S. Gee’s poetry chapbook grapples with growth and the accompanying betrayal it inevitably causes as she quests outward toward faith, abandoning and then revisiting pieces of her past. An immigrant’s daughter, she finds the liturgy in overfilled take-out containers from her family’s restaurant, their strained seals saying, “See how much // was poured out for you.” But there is grief there, too, its presence a prerequisite for consolation. Gee pays special attention to the body, the paradoxes of motherhood, divine brilliance, and physical mundanity: the “glint of light” that “always thinks /
it is God, even slick parking / lot runoff.”

The Convert’s Heart Is Good to Eat
Melody S. Gee
Driftwood Press
$9.99 | 29 pp.

Published in the June 2022 issue: 
Also by this author
After the Tsunami

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