Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn 1990, at age 43, Hollywood TV producer Christopher Ryan, divorced father of 11-year-old Kate, who lives with her mother in New Jersey, decides that suicide is the answer to his questions about the world and God. But first he writes to Kate--a letter to be read on her 21st birthday--and explains the reasons for his act. After a week's worth of letter-writing, he experiences a life-saving epiphany and begins a second letter, which, we know from Kate's prologue and the volume's considerable length, will be followed by more. Yet we also know that he does die nine months after writing the first missive. Why did he change his mind? Ryan's tirades against the Catholic Church, politics and America's cultural bankruptcy are chock full of quotes from philosophers, theologians, poets and other seminal thinkers (nearly all men) who have also struggled with the ideas that trouble Ryan and who tend, gathered together, to sound alike. With little character interaction and so exhaustive a focus on angst and great thoughts, the issue of what happened to Ryan fails to hold reader interest. Straub ( Salvation for Sale ) would have been better served by keener editing. (Dec.)
Library JournalTelevision producer and writer Christopher Ryan has lost the will to live. At 43, he wants only to leave a few letters to his ten-year-old daughter to explain his reasons of suicide. Unfortunately, the letters stretch out considerably, running from July 1990 to December 1991, encompassing the Gulf War and reexamining every act of cruelty in the Western world. Ryan complains that people treat each other badly and proceeds to prove that thesis to his daughter with lengthy diatribes against the Catholic Church, conventional morality, and the entertainment business in America. Straub ( Salvation for Sale: An Insider's View of Pat Robertson , Prometheus, 1988) is clearly a man with a lot to get off his chest, but this epistolary novel is tedious in the extreme. Not recommended.-- Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army TRALINET Ctr., Fort Monroe, Va.
Kerri KilbaneAt 43, Hollywood TV producer and writer Christopher Ryan has descended into an abyss of desperate hopelessness, which has led him to the conclusion that his life is no longer worth living. Mercifully, he is compelled to write a final letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Kate, who has lived with Ryan's ex-wife on the East Coast and has never really known her father. With the plan to entrust the letter to a close friend who will deliver it to Kate when she is 21, Ryan commences writing the deeply revealing exposition of his life, of the internal and external sources of his pain, and of his perpetual struggle to reconcile his beliefs about good and evil with a madly inconsistent world. Ryan's vigilant observations of the oppressive religious, social, and cultural forces that permeate our lives in late-twentieth-century America bravely challenge Catholic dogma and many other "fundamental truths." Theologically astute, Ryan asks provocative and difficult questions about human nature and the ecumenical institution. The epistolary nature of this novel doesn't detract from its readability--it's not light reading, but there are many philosophical pearls of wisdom throughout.
- Prometheus Books
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