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Posted September 15, 2013
First things first: This book loses a star because of bad editin
First things first: This book loses a star because of bad editing. The lack of quality editing leaves Schaeffer's prose contrived in some areas, with abrupt transitions that could lead a reader to wonder if "And God Said, "Billy!" is actually two stories published as one book. I'm inclined to suggest that Mr. Schaeffer retract the book, hand it over to a good editor, and re-release it after revision.
Now onto the rest:
This *is* one story, and one book, but Frank Schaffer is a trickster, taking his readers one way and then the next. It begins with a narrator whose brain has been taken over by American evangelical/charismatic doublespeak. While readers might find this initially amusing or annoying, we eventually begin to see that Billy is deeply ill and that his lingo is perhaps the one thing holding him together.
I won't give away too much of the plot, other than to say that despite his kleptomania and the religious buffering of his psyche, aspiring film-maker Billy almost manages some semblance of success, only to encounter an evil that nearly defeats him. Grace intervenes, though, and begins to restore him to sanity.
A personal sidenote:
20+ years ago I was a college student, feminist and abortion-rights activist. Frank (or "Franky," as we knew him back then) was anti-abortion crusader and mouthpiece for the religious right. In my own mind, he became a mythical nemesis who irked me to no end. In fact, I strongly felt that he was an obnoxious little twerp who needed a good spanking.
What I find interesting is that, over two decades later, Schaeffer managed to write something so uniquely nurturing to my mind and soul. Redemption *narratives* can be problematic for many reasons, but what Shaffer has managed to do with this novel is create a redemption *myth*, that, like most good myths, acts as a salve while pointing the way to further healing.
And I am grateful.
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