Conversations with American Writers: The Doubt, the Faith, the In-between

Dale Brown, Author . Eerdmans $18 (318p) ISBN 978-0-8028-6228-0

For more than 20 years, W. Dale Brown has been interviewing authors about “wrestling with the sacred in their writing.” As a former English professor at Calvin College and director of its Festival of Faith and Writing, Brown has been in a unique position to listen to voices that, he insists, “are preaching up a tempest” in resistance to trends in postmodern fiction. He now follows up his first collection of these conversations (Of Fiction and Faith ) with 10 more interviews. Among his “tale-tellers with a point” are Ron Hansen, Ernest Gaines, Sheri Reynolds, Jan Karon, Silas House and Lee Smith. In gentle discussions, Brown investigates the wellsprings of their writing: while not all of the authors identify themselves as Christians, they reflect at length on being storytellers and seekers of meaning through the lives of their characters. Of particular interest are those who write from a strong sense of place, particularly the South. Brown is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable interviewer. Although some of the discussions are so specific they may be hard to follow for readers unfamiliar with the writers' works in question, this warmhearted collection capably introduces readers to new authors and illuminates the inherent tensions serious writers face in tackling spiritual themes. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/28/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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