cover image Temptations of St. Ed and Brother S

Temptations of St. Ed and Brother S

Frank Bergon, Author University of Nevada Press $22 (305p) ISBN 978-0-87417-226-3

Blunt, no-nonsense prose conveys a dark vision of the modern struggle to maintain religious commitment in this novel set outside Las Vegas. After finalizing plans to use nearby Shoshone land as a nuclear waste disposal site, the Department of Energy has begun efforts to drive out local residents, including the two eponymous monks who live at a Cistercian hermitage in the area. St. Ed, troubled by the monastery's failure to attract postulants and by his bishop's orders to give into the DOE without a fight, wants to make his order more responsive to contemporary society. Brother S, attracted to Bureau of Land Management employee Amy Chavez, finds his vows tested when St. Ed abandons the Cistercian rules and allows Amy to enter the hermitage as a postulant. As the deadline to vacate approaches, the ensuing chaos leads to a tragic act of violence, simultaneously pointless and inspirational, that infuses a note of hope into the novel's bleak tone. Bergon ( Shoshone Mike ) mixes non-preachy spiritual meditations with an all-too-believable plot; while he's fair to all his characters, he leaves no doubt whose side he is on. A solid read that treats faith seriously and doesn't offer easy answers about its place in today's world. $10,000 ad/promo. (Oct.)