Robert Waldron, Author . Paraclete $12.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-55725-290-6

In its first attempt at literary fiction, Paraclete Press offers this brief and uneven novella in which an academic's battle with depression reveals the redemptive power of God. "Death will come like a thief in the night. That's how my depressions arrive...." Thus professor John Highet begins this first-person narrative of his journey from darkness to light. Highet is convinced that the only thing that will pull him from the brink of suicide is to find the renowned poet Ethan Seegard and persuade Seegard to let him write his authorized biography. He rather implausibly rouses himself from his depression to track down Seegard at the New Rievaulx Abbey in New Hampshire, where the poet has gone into seclusion and become a priest. As Highet, an agnostic, interacts with Seegard and others at the abbey, he discovers the hope he needs to go on living and considers the possibility of faith. Waldron crafts some superb phrases and includes a beautiful two-page description of the healing relationship between prayer and depression. However, the story is marred by awkward sentences and excessive use of adjectives. Characters experience too many diverse emotions too rapidly, and Waldron often rushes to summarize scenes for the reader, rather than letting them unfold naturally on their own. There's much undeveloped potential here, and the reader feels a vague dissatisfaction over its failure to materialize. But even with the novella's imperfections, Waldron's depth of insight makes him an author to watch. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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