cover image LEAVING NORTH HAVEN: The Further Adventures of a Small Town Pastor

LEAVING NORTH HAVEN: The Further Adventures of a Small Town Pastor

Michael L. Lindvall, . . Crossroad, $16.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8245-2013-7

From the bestselling author of The Good News from North Haven comes this second installment of short fictional essays, a thinly disguised roman à clef about Lindvall's own experiences as a Presbyterian pastor in smalltown Minnesota as told through the fictional Rev. David Battles. Readers will find it helpful to be familiar with the first book (previously published by S&S), although it's not essential, as Lindvall usually recaps the necessary information. Many of the same characters are included — the indomitable Angus and Minnie MacDowell, the quirky Wilcox brothers and James Cory, a newborn in the first book, now an active seven-year-old. Lindvall's writing is a cross-pollination of two chroniclers of smalltown life, Quaker author Philip Gulley and Garrison Keillor, and although he doesn't succeed quite as well as either, his voice is pleasant, and several of the essays are lovely. Some of his imagery is both original and poetic ("Holy Week had blown up from the south, warm and wet, noisy and full of promises"), but the quality of the essays is uneven. The chapter conclusions too often hammer home the intended message, a style which conservative evangelical readers might appreciate, but which will leave general readers longing for a subtler touch. While Lindvall's entry into the CBA market may be hampered by some lightweight profanities, these will likely endear him to others looking for a realistic portrayal. Doubtless, this enjoyable book will find a home with readers who cherish tales of smalltown life as seen through a spiritual lens. (Nov.)