A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction

Ron Hansen, Author HarperCollins $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-019666-0
In this rich, eloquent and thoughtful group of essays, literature professor and award-winning novelist Hansen (Atticus; Hitler's Niece) muses on the subjects of fiction writing and transcendent faith. ""Writing,"" he claims, ""can be viewed as a sacrament insofar as it provides graced occasions of encounter between humanity and God."" Hansen sees both the act of writing and the Catholic sacraments as experiences to be lived more than interpreted. When the two are completely defined and understood, they lose their mystery and power. Hansen explores the writings and life of his friend John Gardner, the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Leo Tolstoy's ""Master and Man"" and Isak Dinesen's story ""Babette's Feast,"" along with the latter's film version. Along the way he speaks of Jesus' parables, the Old Testament story of Cain and Abel, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, the Eucharist, the stigmata, the Anima Christi prayer and his grandfather. Through all these seemingly disparate narrative threads, Hansen helps readers achieve a glimpse of grace and God. He speaks of his own strong Irish Catholic upbringing (pre- and post-Vatican II) and how its traditions have enhanced his life and writing, even when he was in the ""insubordination"" phase of his life. Anyone who is passionate about good writing, or perchance sees it as a holy exercise, will agree with Hansen that good fiction can enrich spiritual faith. This is a deeply satisfying read. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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