Book reviews

Patrick Coffin’s Sex au Naturel: What It Is and Why It’s Good for Your Marriage (Emmaus Road, 2010)

Coffin neatly summarizes the growing opposition to artificial birth control in this 130 page book that can be easily read in about three hours; notetaking would extend the reading to four.

Some memorable items and ideas include the following.  A list of twelve items in a quiz (xviii) and their answers [77ff] will shock contemporary readers who think that contraception was wanted by everybody in all places at all times.  Coffin makes the case that sex which is not burdened by contraception is as “organic” and “green” (xxi) as the social movements that these terms signify.  He cogently argues that contemporary society suffers from “sexual schizophrenia” (48).

Some trenchant quotes include the following.  “Despite sincere protestations, those who accept contraception implicitly accept every other sexual coupling that is shorn from conception” (49).  Natural law, the basis for sex au naturel, is simple and can be defined as “that which rational beings must do in order to perfect their natures” [63].  “The Church has never commanded families to propagate into poverty” (84).  Sex on infertile days is not the same as birth control because God designed the “natural rhythm of fertility and infertility” (114).  The Church never forbade sex on infertile days (115).  Finally, “Rich is the irony that an over-sexualized, anti-baby culture should excel at producing technologies aimed at making babies without sex!” (122).

Couples who sterilized themselves may especially want to reach chapter nine [99ff] for a discussion of how that serious abuse of their sexuality can be overcome.

I recommend this book for young people seeking the sacrament of matrimony, those who have contracepted themselves surgically, and those husbands and wives who think that contraception is necessary when they have sex with their spouses.  Protestant Christians will be especially encouraged to know that many are not only rediscovering what the Reformers said about contraception, but also abandoning the sexual distortions of late twentieth-century theologians on the matter.

Book reviews

Anthony Burgess’ Nothing Like the Sun: A Story of Shakespeare’s Love-Life (W. W. Norton, 1992; originally published 1964)

Creative sex scenes, clever ejaculation imagery, and deep thoughts for godless societies.

Burgess offers wonderful sex scenes to illustrate that God’s favorite activity for married humans can be rendered into beautiful words.  That this novel was written over half a century ago testifies to his enduring literary power.

Of course, contemporary society may not appreciate how the author writes about sexuality since some misguided souls think that sex is just a pastime instead of a fulfilling part of married life.  Oh, well, that’s their problem.

The rest of us can enjoy this novel not so much as a philosophical treatise on the sanctity of marriage and how Shakespeare broke that sanctity, but as linguistic revelry equal to any Shakespearean drama or sonnet.  Therefore, if you can’t tolerate Shakespeare’s antiquated language just yet, read this novel instead.

What linguistic revelry?  Well!

For example, stating that he “loosed into her honey his milk” (33) is simply clever language for ejaculation, as is the imagery that “a thrust of opal drops in animal ecstasy unleashed a universe” (191).

Burgess uses such literary expression of sexuality to expose the inherent disruption of Shakespeare’s society, a time which “cracked order in State and Church” (267).  Beyond the snickering fun of the above examples of coitus, the author writes some serious condemnations of that milieu.

“That lust and filthy fornication and sodomy and buggery roam this realm, beating their lewd wings and raising a coughing and stinking and blinding dust to lead reason astray [….]  You may take one man’s sinfulness to be the type and pattern of all” ([184]) is not merely creative language.  The ideas apply to our time as much as it did to Shakespeare’s, and no amount of protestation from those who think they are “liberated” today can ignore that the sexual activity detonated by the terms “fornication” and “sodomy” (established for millennia) remain sinful and immoral.

The saddest sections of the novel are Burgess’ suggestions that Shakespeare was a man who utterly lost his faith, whether the “Old Faith” of Catholicism or Anglicanism, which the Tudor monarchs forced on the nation in the sixteenth century under threat of death.  Shakespeare is someone who “kept quiet about his own weak faith in anything” (53).  He may have been a master writer of drama and sonnets, but Shakespeare was a fornicator, an adulterer (with boys, men, and women), and a coward.

Now wonder, then, that a genuine hero in the novel is Shakespeare’s father, who says, “I see that there is more truth there [in the Old Faith of Catholicism] than I formerly thought, and that men have been cruelly burnt for nothing” (200).  Maybe Shakespeare himself found his father’s faith eventually.  After all, the novel ends with the capitalized words “My Lord” (271).

But that would be trying to force a happy ending on a fictionalized account of a life that had great literary merit yet is a piss-poor example of how one should live.

We must thank Burgess, then, for a fun read with didactic value.

Book reviews

J. Brian Benestad’s Church, State, and Society: An Introduction to Catholic Social Doctrine (Catholic University of America Press, 2011)

Biden should read this to learn how he doesn’t follow—in fact, opposes—Catholic social doctrine.

Rod Dreher recently said in his Live Not by Lies that Catholic social justice is different from totalitarian social justice (63-4), so I read Benestad’s book to learn more about what Catholic social justice means.  (Benestad calls it “Catholic Social Doctrine” or CSD throughout his book.)

What I read convinces me that Joe Biden is far from being a “Catholic” anything, let alone a Catholic social justice advocate.  Benestad’s magnificent review of Catholic social doctrine damns Biden as an opponent of Catholic social justice, not as one of its advocates.

It’s obvious why Biden opposes Catholic social doctrine.  Biden supports abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever and wants American taxpayers to fund abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood here in the US and around the world.  Thus, Biden opposes the keystone of CSD: “the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person” (2).

Benestad’s discussion of historicism may also account for another flaw in Biden’s character and policy, his support for genocide.  “According to historicism,” Benestad writes, “truth is simply a function of the time period in which you live.  What is true for one culture may not be true for another” (52).  Biden thinks that the Communist Chinese genocide of the Uyghurs is “a cultural norm”; therefore, Biden is just another politician who doesn’t believe the eternal life-affirming truths as his Catholic faith teaches.

Benestad argues well throughout his book that no social justice effort—no policy, no program, no government initiative, nothing—can be successful if it doesn’t involve changing people’s minds and lifestyles.  In other words, “nothing in life is more important than virtue” (61).  Maybe this is why Biden opposes Catholic social justice.  The evidence against Biden being a man of virtue is obvious; consider, for example, his bribing and threatening foreign officials and his cover-up of his son’s illegal activities.

Most damning for Biden, however, is the fact that he is hypocritical when it comes to living what he thinks is his Catholic faith.  Benestad quotes St. John Paul II, who said, “The legal permission to kill the unborn is really a tyrannical decision by the strong against ‘the weakest and most defenseless of human beings’” (170-1).  His successor, Pope Benedict, noted that public officials have a duty to be “a public witness to our faith” (107).  Specifically, the pope says, “it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values such as respect for human life” (107).

Benestad offers a compelling comparison of the hypocrisy of anti-life politicians like Biden when he writes that “Catholic” politicians who say they are personally opposed to abortion are like politicians before the Civil War who were personally opposed to slavery (232).  A question that Benestad rhetorically asks readers at the end of his book is trenchant and directly relates to anti-life politicians like Biden: “How can people, especially Catholics, speak passionately of social justice and the dignity of the human person without embarrassment, when they have no problem with Roe v. Wade, which allows the killing of unborn children for the whole nine months of pregnancy?” (451).

Biden fails miserably regarding this first criterion of Catholic social justice, respect for human life.  His zealous support for abortion, especially giving American taxpayer dollars to abortion companies here and overseas, negates any respect for human life that he claims to have.

Of course, Biden fails the remaining other criteria of Catholic social justice, all of which are predicated on the first (respect for human life).  The Catholic approach to economics favors capitalism as the more effective means of eliminating poverty, criticizing socialism and communism for its opposition to biblical support for private property (318).  Catholicism considers welfare as a temporary measure (336), has much to say about illegal immigration (340-1), and asserts that states have a right to “control their borders” (340).  Finally, orthodox Catholic social justice theorists note that population control advocates believe in coercion (whether it involves forcing contraception or abortion on them); such coercion is contrary to respect for the individual’s free will and conscience (348).

Biden’s political agenda, of course, opposes these tenets of Catholic social justice.

Benestad’s review of Catholic social justice is necessary, if only to understand how leftists have distorted the ancient concepts of care for fellow human beings.  The leftists who distort Church teachings on social justice include Antifa domestic terrorists and Democratic politicians (both of whom would rather destroy the Western world that Judaism and Christianity have built instead of perfect it).  The distortion of Catholic social justice also comes from leftist clerics (including Pope Francis, who seems to care more about a straw floating in the Atlantic Ocean than he does urging all to care for the three victims of abortion: the mother, the unborn child, and the father).

Fortunately, students and ordinary readers can rely on Benestad’s book as a succinct and accurate source on what Catholic social justice/Catholic social doctrine means.  The book (nearly 500 pages) is scholarly, yet readable, and all readers will appreciate the book’s thorough footnotes and comprehensive bibliography and index.

Book reviews

Richard K. Borden’s Sage Advice: The Lives and Maxims of Some of History’s Wisest People (Archangel Ink, 2020)

A remarkable collection, sure to anger cancel culture zealots but be applauded by the rest of us.

At first, I wondered why this book was necessary at all.  I mean, if any student or reader wanted to look up a phrase, a maxim, or a quote, then he or she would just use DuckDuckGo and search the internet.

Then I realized just how valuable Borden’s collection of maxims is.  In 2021, when cancel culture zealots want to destroy seemingly everything that made human culture (and Western culture especially) great, I think it is imperative that we resist those who would destroy our history by reading, learning, studying, and remembering some of the worthy quotes which inform our millennia-old human civilization.

In short, Borden’s compilation will assist all of us to appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful as expressed by some of humanity’s most forceful people.

Borden’s introductory material clarifies the definition of “maxim” so that readers will understand why this genre of writing is the focus of the book instead of, for example, correspondence or literary works from the people he studied.  Moreover, Borden justifies admirably why he selected only eighteen of the billions of human beings who have dwelt on the planet.

The book also benefits from providing extensive biographical information for each of the eighteen sources whom he consulted.  Best of all for faculty, students, and ordinary readers, Borden provides footnote citations where warranted.  I can hear students around the globe thanking him for helping them to write masterful research papers!

The 241 pages are mellifluously written and would take about two days for a standard reading, four or more days if one concentrated and studied the quotes provided.  Either way, Borden’s book is exemplary and worth anyone’s time and effort.

Book reviews

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (HarperVoyager, 2004; originally published 1953)

Must reading for Antifa domestic terrorists and Democrats who want to ban conservative books.

Ray Bradbury’s famous novel reminds me of the current political strife caused by today’s Nazis, Antifa domestic terrorists, who attempt to erase our history by tearing down statues, destroying property, and killing those who oppose their feeble demands.

Although written in 1953, a much different political environment than 2020, the novel reads like a prophecy fulfilled.  The similarities between what Bradbury writes and today’s Antifa and Democratic Party are clear.

Bradbury’s novel depicts “firemen” who burn books; today, NPR calls for the “decolonization” (i.e. banning) of our personal and (soon) public libraries.  People in Bradbury’s work use televisions spanning entire walls for mindless entertainment; today, ditto, except that the mindlessness of television is found in both entire wall-sized and miniaturized iPhone or iPad screens.  Bradbury’s futuristic citizens cannot engage in logical thinking on complex controversial issues, and their “conversations” mention only the briefest of surface details.  Similarly, a quick scan in 2020 of idiotic Facebook posts and even more vapid tweets would show that some of us (especially Antifa-minded young persons and college students satisfied being “snowflakes” instead of aiming for success in college to advance their careers in America’s capitalist society) have not progressed beyond ephemeral nonsense.

Unfortunately, many sections of the novel are so needlessly lugubrious that I wonder what the cohesion is between the affected section and the overall narrative.  For example, Captain Beatty’s lengthy justification for the firemen who torch books and houses containing banned books (in this imprint, pages 70ff), contains eclectic references, is often rambling, and probably is the result of material which Bradbury needed to add to reach the 25,000 more words which his publisher demanded so that the work could be printed as a lengthier novel.

Despite this content problem, which affects reading comprehension and the mellifluousness of the work, contemporary readers will understand one of the novel’s essential claims: books are merely containers for human ideas. Therefore, even though Antifa, the Democratic Party, and leftists in academia and the media will try their best to purge masterworks from our society, it will be impossible to do so—not because Al Gore invented the Internet (ha ha ha!), but because the ideas are essential to human existence and cannot be eradicated.  Any Nazi-like effort by Antifa or useless Democratic politicians to ban ideas contrary to their myopic perspective is doomed to failure accordingly.

Thus, when Antifa domestic terrorists or other wayward young leftists are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for their destruction of property or murder of their fellow human beings, forcing them to read Bradbury’s novel may help them see that their quasi-political temper tantrums which lead to banning books are futile.  If they want political change, then they should do something truly radical—such as become Catholic and vote Republican, like their parents and grandparents.

Maybe the CHAZ looters could devote a day to read the entire book over loudspeakers instead of screaming about defunding the police.

Hurry and read this book or buy the DVD before Antifa or the Democratic Party ban it.  Otherwise, it, like some other famous literary works, may be gone with the wind.

Book reviews

Sue Ellen Browder’s Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement (Ignatius Press, 2015)

Browder’s autobiography is an important addition to the growing field of works documenting pro-life history since the 1960s.  Her knowledge of the machinations of famous anti-lifers makes her work compelling reading.

For example, twenty-first century readers need to know that Larry Lader was the rabidly anti-Catholic abortion activist who persuaded Cosmopolitan magazine and American feminists in the late 1960s to regard abortion as a right instead of an abuse of women’s bodies and the killing of unborn children (page 12).

Even though she argues that Betty Friedan at first advocated a “family feminism” that respected the rights of the unborn child (pages 29-31), Browder credits the famous former abortionist and later pro-life activist Bernard Nathanson for exposing Lader as the one who persuaded Friedan to include abortion as a right in the agenda of the National Organization for Women (page 51),

Similarly, Browder’s investigative reporter mode is evident when she documents the machinations behind the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton abortion decisions, which legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.  The lazy legal “scholarship” behind the abortion decisions can be summarized in one striking cause-and-effect relationship: Justice Harry Blackmun relied too much on his law clerk, George Frampton, Jr., who depended heavily on Lader’s faulty and biased writings on abortion (pages 94-95).  (Fortunately, Lader’s reprehensible distortion of abortion history was rectified by Joseph W. Dellapenna’s scholarly work, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History.)

Contemporary readers will feel a range of emotions on reading Browder’s autobiography.  They will be angry at the injustice that Browder experienced when she was fired from a journalism job for being pregnant (page 28).  They will feel sorrow that she was persuaded into aborting a child because of economic hardships (pages 104-105).  They will be astounded that her job at Cosmopolitan involved not investigative journalism, but a propaganda effort to sell the sex-without-marriage idea in almost every article she wrote (page 14 and passim).

But those are negative emotions.  Browder’s autobiography engenders many enduring positive emotions.  Today’s reader will rejoice that someone who promoted the rabid Cosmopolitan stance on sexual gratification at all costs and abortion as a “right” would ultimately convert to the pro-life perspective.  Browder’s testament of love for her husband as he lay dying is a fitting conclusion to the range of positive emotions that readers will experience.

Moreover, Browder’s journey to the Catholic Church (covered in pages 176-177) makes sense because it is credible.  Her story compares with other famous abortionists (like Nathanson) who converted to Catholicism as the fulfillment of their deepest desires for a life-affirming community.  One passage on her conversion reads as sheer poetry: “The Church, in her all-forgiving love, is so beautiful that I feel as if I’m living inside a too-thousand-year-old poem” (186).  Browder’s conversion is a delightfully happy ending to an otherwise tragic experience working among anti-lifers.

Browder’s autobiography is recommended for at least three groups: college students who need to know the beginnings of pro-life feminist history, activists who wonder if their involvement in the abortion business is a satisfactory way to find fulfillment in their lives, and Hollywood producers who want to depict the reality of a feminist who escaped the despair of a life-denying lifestyle and chose a life-affirming one.

Book reviews

Thomas Bulfinch’s The Age of Fable, or The Beauties of Mythology. (New York: Heritage Press, 1942; originally published 1855)

Interesting reading, but accounts for why no one cares about mythology.

Considered a classic, despite his anti-Catholic sentiments at the end of the volume, Bulfinch’s collection of the major Greek, Roman, and other European myths makes interesting reading.  However, if one wanted to read this as a prelude to reading the huge anthologies of European literature, then doing so would be a waste of time.  For example, if a literary allusion to Aristaeus occurs, then just google it and find out why he is connected with bees.

Besides that, the volume suffers from referencing too many dead white male poets who used mythological references, but who are largely unread now.  Milton?  Yeah, he wrote epic poetry.  So?  Who reads him now, besides English professors who have time on their hands during the China virus pandemic?  Spenser?  Yeah, he was that Elizabethan guy, right?  So?  Who reads him now?

Coupled with the above, this particular volume has the strangest prints by Stanley William Hayter.  The faces of the characters are weird, if not grotesque, and the preponderance of frontal male nudity would make any contemporary reader wonder what is going on with the fixation of depicting male genitals.

One excellent result of reading this antiquated volume of ancient mythological stories is that the parallels between mythic accounts in the ancient Mediterranean and Judaism and Christianity become apparent.  The ancients justly sought to interpret their world as a divine creation; thankfully, Judaism and Christianity fulfilled the inherent human need to understand our relationship with God.

Neopagans may read Bulfinch’s work and think that the sordid experiences of the ancient gods and goddesses are guides for their lives.  One can only hope that they will not become stupid and read this work only for what it is: a historical account of secular narratives which influenced past writers.

Contemporary readers who want to deepen their faith will finish Bulfinch with a great desire to do the Catholic thing and read the Bible a second, third, or fourth time.  Now that churches are reopening, Catholic Christians of all branches (Byzantine, Melkite, Roman, etc.) will appreciate how sensible Judaism and Christianity are against the swelter of jealous and corrupt gods of the ancient myths who based their actions on emotions more than reason.

Book reviews

Matthew Bunson’s Saint Pope Paul VI: Celebrating the 262nd Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (EWTN Publishing, 2018)

Without being an intrusive editor, Matthew Bunson has collated substantial quotes from St. Paul VI on a variety of topics in 288 pages.  While one can use the saint’s works on pages 289-92 as a reading list, if you don’t have time to read all of them as though you were writing a dissertation, this book will suffice.

The pope’s words sound like prophecies fulfilled.  Contraception?  Yes, the pope was right; people do not respect each other when they frustrate the two intentions of sex in marriage.  Abortion?  Yes, the pope was right again; disrespecting the life of the unborn has led to greater acceptance of infanticide and euthanasia.  Overweening pride in technology?  Yes, the pope was right yet again; it’s almost as though Pope Paul anticipated the Internet and our obsession with social media (what a laugh!) when he wrote that we are “not just a screen for the thousand impressions” to which our lives are subject (236).

Two takeaways from the reading.  First, no matter how dire the situation of the Church seemed in the late sixties and seventies (priest defections, unorthodox theologians arguing that artificial birth control was morally acceptable, legalized abortion, declining attendance a Mass, etc.), from the perspective of fifty years later, surprise!  The Catholic Church is still going strong, and what St. Paul VI wrote and spoke about in his pontificate is relevant today.

Second takeaway: in contrast with academic monographs written by secular or atheist scholars, it will be encouraging for young people to know that, even in Paul VI’s world of dissension, wars, social unrest, and other ills, the Church through this pope enunciated several positive things: we are children of God, we are not alone in our search for community, we can change the world, we uphold life, we make peace by upholding life, and love is the Christian’s modus operandi.  What anti-life feminist academic who supports the killing of the unborn child can say anything like that?

Unfortunately, there is no index.  The reader should read carefully and annotate well.

Book reviews

Mortimer J. Adler’s and Charles Van Doren’s How to Read a Book (Simon & Schuster, 1972)

Desperately needed in the age of rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.

Adler’s and Van Doren’s monograph, for which the publisher provided the subtitle “The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading” on the cover but not the title page, is something I should have read fifty years ago.  Their work is something contemporary students should be required to read as thoroughly as the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party which flood their smartphones.  Fortunately, the damage done by decades of reading for quantity can be corrected by Adler’s and Van Doren’s rules so that reading for quality becomes paramount.

The work is dated; originally published in 1940, the most current copyright is 1972—nearly five decades or two generations ago.  In some quarters (for example, feminist scholars who blabber about patriarchy, heteropatriarchy, and other ridiculous ideas like white privilege), Adler’s and Van Doren’s ideas may be disregarded as ancient relics of a patriarchal view of society that was supposed to have been abandoned by educated persons.

Since “educated persons” in our society are eminently stupid, Adler’s and Van Doren’s rules for reading are urgently needed.  As an English professor, I can affirm how helpful their suggestions on reading will be to contemporary students, who are often lost when it comes to discussing complicated essays in class.

Moreover, contemporary students rarely get beyond the surface details in any text, whether an essay, literary work, or online article—a phenomenon Adler and Van Doren identify among students in their time.  Since human nature has not changed over the past five decades, therefore, Adler’s and Van Doren’s work may help everyone get beyond the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.

Readers may especially find the authors’ recommended reading list (340ff) helpful as a guide to major works in Western civilization.

Another great benefit of reading Adler’s and Van Doren’s work is that it will help all of us counter (as in blog, post, share, tweet, or write educated replies to) the rushed tweets, sloppy Facebook posts, and “news” from biased sources like CNN and MSNBC, agents of the useless and criminal Democratic Party.  Making all of us critical thinkers is surely worth the time needed to master the authors’ rules of reading.

Book reviews

Richard Antall’s The Wedding (Lambing Press, 2019)

A comedic and byzantine novel to remind us that priests are ordinary guys deserving respect.

Richard Antall has written a delightful novel showing how people often burden Catholic priests with crap when they should be treated with respect.  Granted, priests devote their lives for God’s children, but that doesn’t mean the children have to act like self-centered millennials who voted for the fraud Joe Biden and expect everything whenever they insist.  Reading Antall can give all of us a change in perspective; what we often think are disasters may not be so, and insisting that priests immediately tend to our disasters may disturb others more than we know.

In short, reading Antall’s novel can help us not only to show more respect to priests, but also to warn us to cool it with the nonsense we throw at them.

Antall paints a delightful cast of priest characters.  No Bing Crosby here, singing his merry way through a parish with relatively docile punks.  Fr. William Laughlin, the protagonist, is a forty-something priest who is hitting his stride in a parish loaded with odd characters and who finds contemplation of his daily prayers more a chore than a loving service to the Lord.  (Sound familiar?  How often do we lay people pray with rapt attention instead of tap away insipid messages within useless and leftist social media services like Facebook or Twitter?)

The pastor, Fr. Jako, is a grizzled old priest, who talks like an ordinary man, peppering his speech with vulgarisms like any other ordinary old (or, for that matter, young) man.  Jako calls his doctor “the tricky bastard” (130) and is unashamed to use the past participle “goddamned” as a choice adjective (63).  Fr. Laughlin himself is not exempt from using the ordinary speech of ordinary people, as when he calls Carl, the aggrieved groom whose fiancée called off the wedding, “Poor bastard” (7 and again on 42; italics in original).

Whether the publisher, an obviously Catholic outfit, or the author himself demanded it, several instances of vulgar terms are replaced with typographic bleeps, such as “&#%!” (41, 83).  It’s easy to determine what letters the characters substitute, so the reader obtains an investigative delight in solving the puzzle of such linguistic naughtiness.  Towards novel’s end, Antall pokes fun at this practice of omitting vulgar terms directly with Fr. Laughlin exclaiming, “No expletive deleted, Sherlock” (195).

The definition of “A parish is like Peyton Place” (87; italics in original) may be the guiding motif of Antall’s novel, and the numerous situations which present themselves to Fr. Laughlin justify such a claim.  The novel is ostensibly concerned with the cancelled wedding of Carl and Mary, but interspersed with the “resolution” of this plot are episodes where Fr. Laughlin wisely and compassionately counsels a young mother who aborted and regrets her choice; a gay man who is tortured not only about his same-sex attraction, but, more importantly, since having same-sex attraction is not per se sinful, having engaged in homosexual activity; a best friend who lost his business and needs medical attention; and several other crises—all of which are crammed into one day.

Aristotle would be proud.  The reader, however, may come away from the novel, wondering how any man—friend or psychiatrist or priest—could juggle such problems and claims on his time.

One technical problem can frustrate the reader: an annoying spelling out of verb tenses instead of the use of contractions.  “I’m sorry to call you this early…” and “It’s not an easy situation…” are the expressions which ordinary people would use instead of “I am sorry…” or “It is not….”

Overall, though, Antall has written an enjoyable novel where all plot points are (relatively) resolved at novel’s end.  Any items which are not resolved could become the bases for future novels.  It would be even more enjoyable to see this novel translated into film.

Attention: Mel Gibson, here’s your next new property….