What counts as the good life? What constitutes happiness? What do we really need in order to flourish as human beings? Many of us would associate these questions with the late-night conversations we love to have with friends or the subjects we explore together on long afternoon walks.
She was the best confessedly Christian writer of the 20th century, maybe one of the very best of any time or place. With dark wit, always tinged with a threat of horror, she packed into her stories the guilt, blood, violence, blinding light and costly redemption that is our encounter with the living Christ, though she seldom made explicit reference to Christ. Her stories are parables of a world with everything out of balance, not just because most of them occur in the unbalanced American South, but because she deeply believed that we have been whopped upside the head by a God who is determined to have us—even if God has to venture into inhospitable rural Georgia to do it.
Wally Lamb has a thing for lyrics. His own prose isn’t very musical—it clunks along like a muffler about ready to fall from an old Ford—but over and over again his characters find something they need in popular songs. His first novel, She’s Come Undone, took its title from the Guess Who and went on to play a veritable jukebox.
Growing up in a Mennonite conference in Pennsylvania that didn’t ordain women, I met plenty of folks like my mother: women and men who resisted the patriarchy of their church but who couldn’t bring themselves to leave.