Archive for June, 2006
PADRE PIO, the 20th century Roman Catholic priest and healer said to have manifested Christ’s wounds, was asked whether his stigmata were a result of concentrating so intently on the Crucifixion. “Go out to the fields and look very closely at a bull,” he answered. “Concentrate on him with all your might and see if you start to grow horns.” Frankka, the 28-year-old heroine of Ariel Gore’s beguiling first novel, “The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show,” is no saint. A college dropout raised by her devout grandmother, she travels the country as the star of a ragtag, countercultural, religious-themed circus. At the show’s climax, she steps into the spotlight, draws on the force of a self-imposed fast and performs one awe-inspiring trick: Blood wells from her palms and drips onto the stage…
In countless run-down motels and greasy spoons along the highway, Frankka records the lives of the saints in a book–not just the canonical versions, but also the stories they whispered to her as she walked home alone from Catholic school: the early affairs, wrong turns and eccentricities that could comfort a girl who’d earned the epithet “Freaky Frances” after a classmate decided her eyes were set too far apart. Therese of Lisieux, for example, was “a hippie chick before her time,” Frankka writes. Intent on doing everything, even the dishes, with love, Therese “had no grand plans–just the radical belief that she could fulfill her destiny simply by being herself.”
Is it sacrilegious for an ordinary woman to summon blood to her palms or a sin to conceal what may be a gift from God? This is a brave and heady question for a first novel and one that the author answers–both conventionally and through the miraculous. What is sure by the end is that Frankka, like the rest of us, has to follow the path of Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower,” in just being her quirky self.”
–Regina Marler, Los Angeles Times… Read the whole review here: Cirque du surreal
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette hails The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show…
“Anyone who has ever referred to himself as a ‘lapsed’ or ‘recovering Catholic’ will be smitten by this book within the first page. …Those who are not now and have never been Catholic will still find this a delightful, quick read that will likely make them think about religion, family and the ties that bind in new ways. Gore is a spirited and imaginative storyteller; her words sparkle with life and carry the reader along at an almost frenetic pace. It’s a book that seems made to be read in big gulps.”
So, my big Welcome home, how do you do? was the tragic crashing of both the hardrives on the little orange and white ’90s iMacs I’ve been running this empire from.
After the initial nail-biting and hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing… I borrowed and begged the funds for a new computer and started getting it set up when…screech, gulp, kerplunk… My Honda died! On the freeway! In a great billow of smoke!
“Not a good story at all,” the mechanic said. “Six hundred dollars fixes the whole thing. Maybe. Or thirty-four dollars to make it run. But you shouldn’t drive on the freeway anymore. And you should drive with bicycle in trunk. Just in case.”
So, now I’m driving my rehabed smokey Honda with a bicycle in the trunk. I start it with a butter knife, and some wishin’, which reminds me of Mary Waters’ CD, Little Red Car Wreck: Motor Like a Mother. I think that was maybe the best CD of all time.