Great Speckled Bird: Confessions of a Village Preacher

Rob McCall. Pushcart (Norton, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (260p) ISBN 978-1-888889-67-3
McCall (Small Misty Mountain), a Congregational minister in Blue Hill, Maine, has a "raging bias in favor of small towns and churches." That slant energizes his collection of essays, arranged by the seasons. With his pastoral connection to nature, McCall is aligned with nature-centered, theologically oriented writers Jeff Golliher, Garret Keizer, and Jennifer Phillips. McCall, a feminist and a pacifist (both labels show in the essay "Mother's Day"), describes himself also as a heretic because he doesn't buy church dogma: he boosts simple love over brocaded belief. He defines the Old Faith of the countryside, which, to him, falls closer to Jesus' path than does organized religion. He employs nature to explain hard-thought ideas. His description of mowing, for example, serves metaphorically to describe his writing, too: "I try to hit the rocks at just the right angle so, instead of dulling the blade, they sharpen it." His admirably poetic and varied techniques include narration and description; humor, repetition (alliteration), aphorisms, and awfully good questions. McCall writes with his heart open. Therein, for readers, lie truth and love. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
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