Vestments

Vestments

4.5 2
by John Reimringer
     
 

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Let me begin today, illumined by Thy light, to destroy this part of the natural man which lives in me in its entirety, the obstacle that constantly keeps me from Thy Love. Taught this prayer as a boy by his grandfather, James Dressler recites it each time he’s tempted by earthly desires. Originally drawn to the priesthood by the mystery, purity, and

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Overview

Let me begin today, illumined by Thy light, to destroy this part of the natural man which lives in me in its entirety, the obstacle that constantly keeps me from Thy Love. Taught this prayer as a boy by his grandfather, James Dressler recites it each time he’s tempted by earthly desires. Originally drawn to the priesthood by the mystery, purity, and sensual fabric of the Church, as well as by its promise of a safe harbor from his tempestuous home, James finds himself — just a few years after his ordination — attracted again to his first love, Betty García. Torn between these opposing desires, and haunted by his familial heritage, James finds himself at a crossroads. Exploring age-old and yet urgently contemporary issues in the Catholic Church, and infused throughout by a rich sense of the history and vibrant texture of St. Paul, and infused throughout by a rich sense of the history and vibrant texture of St. Paul, this is an utterly honest and subtly lyrical novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this potent debut about a wayward yet devout young priest who struggles to reconcile his faith with longings of the flesh, Reimringer has crafted a suspenseful, illuminating, and highly readable saga. James Dressler, a Catholic working-class kid from St. Paul, Minn., with a barroom brawler father and a "piece of work" mother, sees the Catholic Church as both his salvation and his moral compass. Following his ordination, James gets assigned to Saint Hieronymus Church in Pretty Prairie, Minn., alongside his friend and cynical, skirt-chasing fellow priest, Mick. James joins a poker group run by fellow priests, and the internecine conflicts and accommodations within the clergy are artfully depicted, as are James's efforts to square his earthly cravings with his priestly station--he's basically a regular guy who loves sports and drinking, and yearns for female companionship. Soon enough, James ends up in trouble and goes back to St. Paul, where an old flame awaits. Reimringer excels, most notably, at revealing how the sensual delectations of Catholic ritual and the forbidden delights of the flesh are part of the same continuum, as sin and repentance feed off each other. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This intensely personal debut novel about a priest's fall from grace details the confusing life of an idealistic young man who belongs to a violent, hard-drinking, working-class family. Set in St. Paul, it tells the story of young James Dressler, exploring the experiences that lead him to the priesthood. The plot artfully unveils James's life through a series of flashbacks; James's reverently irreverent, violent, and alcoholic father provides a gripping emotional context, and the descriptions of the geography and history of St. Paul add a useful backdrop. Particularly satisfying are the descriptions of parish priests and how they bond together to support one another in their isolation. As Reimringer describes James's struggles, it seems a far-fetched notion that the young priest will not succumb to his urges, but he comes across as a genuine human being. VERDICT Holden Caulfield meets Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds with some Bukowski on the side, this is a compelling tale that provides a little-seen, interior, first-person point of view of the priesthood. For all readers interested in inner conflict.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571310804
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
09/07/2010
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.92(w) x 11.06(h) x 1.10(d)

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Vestments 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
darklake More than 1 year ago
What a thoughtful and delightful book. It was slow to hook me, largely because of the distasteful father character who dominated the first hundred pages, but as the book followed the life of James, a flawed but likable priest, I became more and more enchanted by this book's realistic pace. Set mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota, the novel is a tribute to this ethnically diverse city while raising questions about the church and those who serve in it. Reimringer's language is keen and clear, his descriptions never flowery, and his characters developed. I admire the scope and depth of this well-crafted book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago