cover image Danny Gospel

Danny Gospel

David Athey, . . Bethany House, $13.99 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-7642-0444-9

This unusual faith-based novel explores pain and redemption through the eyes of Daniel David McGillicuddy (or “Danny Gospel” as he is known), a mentally disturbed Iowa mail carrier with a cross-shaped scar on his chest. All but his older brother in the singing Gospel Family have died, and when not delivering the mail, Danny wanders farm fields or meanders through his memory. Athey portrays much of Danny’s current life as a long hallucination, punctuated with lucidity and remembrances of a tragic but loving Christian childhood. As he slips into deep trouble—a barroom brawl, a job loss, a faith healing that backfires—Danny must flee his Iowa home “where all the stories make sense.” His friend Grease, a mechanic with a penchant for strip clubs, helps Danny escape in a pink Cadillac to Palm Beach, Fla., where he takes up with a ragtag group in a condemned building, composes music and writes his memoirs. Then suddenly, Danny returns to Iowa for a family event, picking up a group of eggnog-sipping old ladies on the way. As Alice in Wonderland would say, “curiouser and curiouser.” Although Athey, an English professor at Palm Beach Atlantic College, is an imaginative writer, confused readers may be left scratching their heads. (Apr.)