In my ongoing effort to propagate awareness of Spiritual Fiction, I’d like to present an excellent example. Unfortunately, Howard Fast, who is among the most prolific of American writers, is no longer with us to give an opinion regarding my obsession with the genre.
Having read his memoir, Being Red, I came to believe that Howard did not necessarily believe in God. He did certainly believe in humanitarianism and fought bravely, brilliantly, and even physically for that cause in all of its purposes. He was a long-time Unitarian Universalist, though he is more often cited for his temporary ties with the American Communist movement. Those modern day souls, fearful of the very word socialism (a fear bred and bolstered by the hate mongering of political opportunists and Joe McCarthy groupies) would do well to read Howard Fast to get the other, and much truer side of the story.
Nevertheless, The Confession of Joe Cullen is, in my opinion, great Spiritual Fiction… Well, it’s all in the review. No, not really; it’s all in the novel. I highly recommend it.
As always, thanks for coming by. Please leave a comment if you’re so inclined. jesse s. hanson
by Howard Fast
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Confession of Joe Cullen
I loved this Confession of Joe Cullen book, although, if it hadn’t been Howard Fast (it’s no secret–I’m a huge fan), I may well have not read beyond the first chapter/confession–Guy walks into a bar, says, “Hey bartender, who’s the good lookin’ dame in the corner…” Well, i’m being facetious, but it really came off as second rate New York gumshoe material. But it is Howard Fast so I didn’t quit there, and it turned out to be, not only great historical fiction and social commentary, so typical of this fine American author, but also a really wonderful example of spiritual fiction.
There isn’t a lot you can tell about this novel, without giving out spoilers. Suffice it to say that it really is a gumshoe story, with all the trappings of that form, including extreme simplicity and a certain corniness. As I was thinking of comparisons just now, Road to Perdition came to mind. People tend to be, after all, simple and a bit corny from one perspective, and yet from another, they are vital, sincere, tormented, and trajic. Having spent most of my life as an artist trapped in a blue collar body, these characters (the good guys, not the bad guys) are my friends. Yes, they are often melodramatic, but that does not negate the very real and powerful drama of their lives and their deaths. Herein, these men and women deal with important questions, such as truth, integrity, love, loneliness, despair, betrayal, loyalty, and forgiveness.
Set in 1987, The Confession is rather pre-technology as we think of it today. But it is a time, not so very far removed and I cannot see it as anything less than still relevant, even socially, to today’s world. Spiritually… well spirituality is transcendant of time, is it not? If not, I’m not sure what value it would have.