THE ENIGMA OF ANGER: Essays on a Sometimes Deadly Sin
"I am a descendant of angry men," Episcopal priest Keizer tells readers at the outset of this wise and beautiful reflection on anger. With that, we are lured into a book that is both intensely personal and achingly universal, for Keizer's confessions of and ruminations about his own anger will strike a chord with many a reader. This memoirish and erudite study is best read as apology in both senses of the word: a request for forgiveness for unwarranted anger and a defense of anger as something that has a legitimate place in the Christian life. Keizer addresses righteous anger at social injustices, domestic anger toward family members, anger within local parishes and anger that defensively masks harder feelings like grief. One of the most original and invigorating chapters tackles gender. Keizer suggests, ingeniously, that one of the reasons men and women deal with anger differently is that "traditional 'women's work' serves as an antidote to the forces that make men enraged." The book is deeply Christian, suffused with images of crucifixion, Holy Eucharist and the Sermon on the Mount—but it is hardly parochial, and practitioners of other faiths will find capacious truths in Keizer's perfectly particular reflections. The book is distinguished, above all, by its prose. What might have been merely a spiritual "how-to" on anger management is transformed into a literary achievement by Keizer's way with words, from the opening description of a sugar maple tree to the concluding ode to Samuel Johnson. (Aug.)
Forecast:Keizer's writing will particularly appeal to the more literary segments of the religious market, as well as the ABA audience. Harper's magazine plans both a review and a feature story, and serials will appear in Books and Culture and Christian Century.