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Christian

Praying Drunk, by Kyle Minor

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Over here I mentioned my interest in this short story collection, the title of which comes from a great Andrew Hudgins poem.

 

At the time I posted, I was hoping the library would have a copy. It didn't. So I waited, then forgot about the book.

 

Christ and Pop Culture just reminded me of it:

 

Christians who love books are dealt a rough hand. Most Christian fiction is starchy, not clearly situated in relation to a world of people who eat, fart, and have sex; literary fiction in a secular mode rarely finds room for people of faith except when they provide a useful foil for developing another, more sympathetic, more central character. Cardboard angels or savage idiots: basically, that’s our menu.

 

Of course this assessment is idiotic and sweeping and lazy and etc. I mean, of course it is. It doesn’t work as analysis. It’s rather meant to capture a sentiment I find to be prevalent among my literary friends. Many of us are starved for characters of faith that don’t fall into one of the buckets described above.

 

This, at least, is a first go at understanding why Kyle Minor’s book Praying Drunk has so deeply affected many of us. We were starved for fiction like this, and we knew it.

 

CAPC notes that Minor is an "exile from American Evangelicalism," and frankly, I could deal with a few less such people in my life, given the heavy dose I get of that viewpoint here and elsewhere. (Love you guys, but sometimes the strain gets to be a bit much for me.) But that concern is secondary to my concerns about finding quality religious fiction that can engage, knowingly, with religious ideas -- even when the author's expressions of such might be negative.

 

Does Minor have anything positive to say about faith? I'm going to find out: The book is available at a bookstore within walking distance of my office, and I'm going to take a long lunch stroll and buy it.

 

 

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Does Minor have anything positive to say about faith?

Answer: Nope.

 

The book was pretty one-note, dreary stuff. I posted about it at Good Reads, and Minor himself liked the review and responded, "Hey, thanks for giving it a try anyway."

 

That's pretty cool of him, considering how dismissive of the collection I was in my brief comments on it. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars because I couldn't find much fault with the writing. It just left me empty, wondering what the point was. I can't say it doesn't have a certain integrity in its approach, but I couldn't be further from where Minor is in my view of God and faith. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that I hope to never be where he is now. 

 

I realize that's a very subjective response.

Edited by Christian

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