Shouts and Whispers: Twenty-One Writers Speak About Their Writing and Their Faith
, . . Eerdmans, $15 (257pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-3229-0
What does it mean to be a writer working in a context of faith? Answers to this question and others are the crux of this meaty, thoughtful volume of essays edited from speeches and interviews at the biennial Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. As with most collections, there is some unevenness but also welcome diversity. The essays range from the gentle simplicity of Jan Karon to David James Duncan's assertion that when writing and faith collide, we'll need to find ways to clean up the "wreckage." Katherine Paterson deservedly gets two chapters; Madeleine L'Engle offers an autobiographical look at writing fiction; and literary novelist Bret Lott is unabashedly evangelical. It's hard to go wrong with essays from the esteemed Frederick Buechner, Ron Hansen (who remarks on the "sabotage of the fictional dream by forcing one's characters to perform the role of mouthpieces"), Elizabeth Dewberry or the delightful Thomas Lynch. There are also interviews with Anne Lamott and Kathleen Norris, and Garry Wills's excellent conversation with screenplay writer and film director Paul Schrader. This collection should be required study for writers of faith and their readers.
Reviewed on: 04/10/2006