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Fiction about faith

By Marissa Creamer
Rowan Public Library
Begin your new year with a novel from a new author. These three debut novels shake up the convention of the traditional faith fiction genre:
“I did not expect to meet the Angel of Death while he was extricating himself from a washing machine. Actually I wasn’t really expecting to meet the Angel of Death at all. Not this soon. Not in this place. Yet there he was, slowly unwinding himself from Dixie Manufacturer’s finest front-loading commercial washer, twisting and turning and pulling his full body up and over the rim and out onto the laundromat floor.”
With an opening like that, I had a hard time putting down “Saving Erasmus,” Steven Cleaver’s debut novel. And the tale only gets stranger as it proceeds. Andrew Benoit, fresh seminary graduate, encounters the Angel of Death, who informs him he has one week to save the tiny town of Erasmus from destruction.
It seems the townspeople have lost their faith, and it’s up to Andrew to help them find it. He is assisted by a band of mystics who meet at the Instant Coffee Cup and is guided by visions from the Velveteen Rabbit and Homer Simpson, among others.
The editor describes this wacky tale, which was recently named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2007, as a sort of Angel of Death meets “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
“Leaper: the Misadventures of a Not-Necessarily-Super Hero” by Geoffrey Wood brings us the adventures of a new superhero: James, the over-caffeinated coffee barista who suddenly develops the ability to leap through space.James is a reluctant and neurotic hero (“You can never worry too soon”). We see him grapple with controlling his new ability (“Like a butterfly in a bad breeze, I’m all over the place.”) as he attempts to make sense of it all. Is this a gift from God? Is he obligated to use his power to do good deeds? (Does he need a cape?)
This quirky debut novel made me laugh out loud, but its deeper message about the purpose of our gifts and the meaning of redemption and faith is thought-provoking and profound.
Another Publisher’s Weekly Best Book selection for 2007 is “Feeling For Bones” by Bethany Pierce. “At the age of sixteen, I suffered recurring nightmares. I was running as hard as I could while my destination on the horizon receded to a pinpoint and vanished like the white pop of an old television screen winking out. Awake, I lay in a trance at the bottom of a pool, suffocating beneath an invisible, silent weight: people’s voices reached my ears across a great distance, and the reflection of my body was always before me, wavering in myriad and grotesque distortions.”For Olivia, the year a scandal forces her father to lose his position as pastor of their church is a time of troubled dreams and distorted images. The budding artist’s unhealthy self-image leads to an eating disorder. As she struggles to overcome her anorexia, she learns much about faith, family, self-acceptance and starting over.
Start out your new year with one of these new faith fiction novels. You can find them at Rowan Public Library.
Let’s Talk About It: The book discussion program on Southern fiction begins Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Hurley Room at headquarters and continues every other Thursday. The five titles are “Shiloh,” “The Known World,” “Nowhere Else on Earth,” “Wolf Whistle” and “Song of Solomon.” Call 704-216-8230 to register.
Computer classes: Headquarters ó MS Powerpoint Part 1, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.; MS Word Part 1, Monday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m.; MS PowerPoint Part 2, Thursday, Jan. 10, 1:30 p.m.; MS Word Part 2, Monday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m.; NCLive Resource: Encyclopedia Britannica, Thursday, Jan. 17, 1:30 p.m.; NCLive Resource: Health Info, Thursday, Jan. 24, 1:30 p.m. South branch ó Basic Powerpoint, Monday, 7 p.m.; Basic Word, Thursday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.; Digital Photography Part 2, Monday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m.
Tuesday movies: January, Chinese films, headquarters library, 6:30 p.m.; “The Road Home,” “To Live,” “Raise the Red Lantern” and “Fearless.”
Displays: Headquarters ó Photography by Spencer Bevis. East ó baskets by Lucille Patterson. South ó Jewelry by Ester Sims.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

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