Saturday, February 6, 2016

Literary diversity


A few responses to kind comments about my books:

1) Three of my books have a very Carmelite context. 
  • The Elijah book's subtitle is "A Twenty-First Century Reflection in a Medieval Carmelite Mode." It is a series of reflections on spiritual topics and includes a lot of ideas from my retreat conferences and homilies from my thirty years in the monastery. It is in the nature of spiritual reading.
  • The Gratian book includes a translation of a sixteenth-century spiritual work by St. Teresa's great friend and confessor, Jerome Gratian (more often these days, Gracian). That brief work is written in the form of a parody of the legislation of a religious community, making light of the many ways in which friars and nuns in community often  create problems for themselves and others by things we would call neurotic behaviors today. It is a very funny piece, much of which applies to any community or group, but the monastic background may render it difficult for some. It is primarily of interest to Carmelites. The slim volume also contains a short biography of Gracian (who has been proposed for sainthood) and an article I wrote for another publication about one important lesson in the book.
  • The Dark Night Murders is a historical novel, based on a (non-murderous) event in the life of St. John of the Cross. It is a Carmelite homage to Brother Cadfael. It has its messages, as do the Cadfael novels, and I hope that it is not too preachy. I wrote it thinking it might be the first in a series. I have begun and worked on a second novel, in which St. Teresa plays a larger role, but I am not sure I will ever complete it.
2) The two published WhoVille books were inspired by my time working at the University of Chicago and later at Loyola University in Chicago. They are post-monastery compositions, intentionally quirky and funny and with a light gay tone. The Carmelite books are all, in different ways, message books. The WhoVille books (including the one that I hope to publish later this year) are fun books. You may discover something of significance in them, but if so, it is probably something in you that is significant and that you have projected onto essentially silly bits. The Carmelite books were meant to be edifying. The WhoVille books are strictly for entertainment.

3) Except for His Wings is unlike the Carmelite books and the WhoVille books. It is a novel, but not a mystery, at least not in the same way that Dark Night Murders is a mystery. There is a message, maybe several messages. But that is not why I wrote the book. It began with a random line that floated through my head some years ago and that I decided to use to anchor my National Novel Writing Month project this past November. I like the way it has turned out, but it is not quirky-funny like WhoVille or intentionally inspirational like the Carmelite works. The narrator is a recovering alcoholic, and although I had thrown that in just to give him a backstory, Twelve Step-related ideas wound up playing a larger role than I had anticipated. It is not an AA novel the way Dark Night Murders is a Carmelite novel, though. It is not exactly fantasy, not in the usual sense. I think of it as surreal, like a painting in which most things look perfectly normal but one little bit is ... not quite.

Anyway, I mention all this because people who read one of the books and then pick up another -- especially one from another group -- may be quite surprised at the difference in tone and perspective. Each of the books in some way reflects aspects of my own journey, and that has many tones and perspectives. 

So be forewarned!

Oh, as for making the books available in audiobook format, that would be lovely but it is an expensive undertaking and not something I would want to try to cope with myself. Turning a new/recent book that is already available in print into an e-book takes literally a few minutes and costs practically nothing. Turning it into an audiobook is far more time-consuming and costly. Much as I enjoy audiobbooks myself, and as excited as I would be for someone to put one of my works into that format, it's not going to happen.

A number of conferences that I gave as a priest were recorded and once were available on CDs from the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order of the Washington Province. Whether any of those are still out there, I do not know. But those are more in the nature of lectures, anyway. And not the least bit like WhoVille!


1 comment:

Mitchell is Moving said...

Having just finished my first of your books, I am not surprised that I love your writing and I can't wait to read the others, however different they may be.