Bless Me Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood

Amber C. Sumrall, Editor, Patrice Redd Vecchione, Editor Plume Books $11.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-452-27154-8
The editors of Catholic Girls, an anthology of writings by and about Catholic women, have compiled a charming and provocative complementary volume that looks at the turmoil, fear and confusion of childhood under the powerfully affecting influence of the Catholic Church. Using a commendably broad approach that draws contributions from newcomers and name authors of varied Catholic backgrounds, the 54 stories and poems are arranged into three sections: struggles for understanding (``Days of Black and White''), explorations of the transformative impact of Catholicism (``Wings'') and wider considerations of sexual confusion and desire (``Wild Heart''). Shame, guilt and dread color many retrospectives of the church's legacy, but there is enough humor and warmth to lift the collection beyond mere accusations and denunciations of the past. Most memorable in a consistently good collection are Maura Stanton's elegiac ``John McCormack,'' the charming, magical realism of Birute Putrius Serota's ``Lucy in the Sky,'' Rita Williams's graceful ``The Mathematics of the Moon'' and Gary Soto's poem ``The Music at Home.'' But many other accounts of the secrets and mysteries hovering just inches beyond a child's comprehension also help to make this a diverting, often trenchant collection. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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