cover image Sin Bravely

Sin Bravely

Maggie Rowe. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (225p) ISBN 978-1-59376-659-7

Rowe, the lacerating genius behind the Hudson Theater’s Comedy Central Stage show Sit ’n Spin and a writer for Arrested Development, is seriously funny in her first memoir. She chronicles her clinical case of doubt in the perfectly manicured evangelical world of her youth. Starting with the flannel-board stories about sister-harlots Oholah and Oholibah (from Ezekiel 23) in low-cut purple felt dresses and goddess sandals, and moving on to her first stage role in a play (called 100% Chance of Rain) about Noah and the end of the world, Rowe puts readers in the front car on her spiritual roller-coaster. In her early 20s, Rowe’s wild ride simply glides off the rails when she has a nervous breakdown while watching Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 magical realism film, Dreams. Her childhood terror that her potentially “lukewarm” Christian conversion will land her in eternal damnation consumes her until she stops eating. Her parents suggest a residential respite at Grace Point evangelical psychiatric institute, where Rowe is diagnosed with morbid scrupulosity, a bad case of pathological morality. Rowe’s fantastic book is a born-again version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest complete with a Nurse Ratched analogue (the demanding, no-nonsense Bethanie). Not for the faint of heart, this is a cutting examination of Rowe’s spiritual evolution that plunges into the big questions with the fearlessness found in the most brilliant of comics. (Jan.)