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501 Minutes to Christ: Personal Essays
     

501 Minutes to Christ: Personal Essays

by Poe Ballantine
 

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DUE OUT SEPTEMBER 2007, POE BALLANTINE’S second collection of personal essays follows in the tradition of Things I Like About America. Stories range from "The Irving," which details Mr. Ballantine’s diabolical plan to punch John Irving in the nose after opening for him before an audience of 2,000 people that launched the literary festival, Wordstock; to

Overview

DUE OUT SEPTEMBER 2007, POE BALLANTINE’S second collection of personal essays follows in the tradition of Things I Like About America. Stories range from "The Irving," which details Mr. Ballantine’s diabolical plan to punch John Irving in the nose after opening for him before an audience of 2,000 people that launched the literary festival, Wordstock; to "Wide-Eyed in the Gaudy Shop," which tells how, in Mexico, the narrator met and later married his wife, Cristina; to "Blessed Meadows for Minor Poets," the devastating tale of how after years of sacrifice and persistence, Mr. Ballantine finally secured a contract with a major publisher for a short story collection that never came to fruition. Ever present in this collection of essays are the odd jobs, eccentric characters, boarding houses, buses, and beer that populate Mr. Ballantine’s landscape and make his stories uniquely his own. The title story, "501 Minutes to Christ," was included in the Houghton Mifflin anthology, Best American Essays 2006.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Ballantine's second essay collection (after Things I Like About America) follows the writer through a series of stubbornly haphazard misadventures to a place of relative stability. Ballantine is never far from the trenches, whether he's the homeless guy accepting help or the employed guy trying to provide a little assistance. His transient persona may grate on some readers' nerves, but the restless wandering of the collection's earlier part is preferable to the late-blooming semimaturity found in the later essays. Aimlessly, Ballantine manages to find himself married and settled down in one place, under contract to a reputable publisher, and enjoying the modest fruits of success (while planning to sock John Irving at a literary festival). The essays are readable and entertaining and contain occasional moments of startling beauty and insight. Still, the themes of addiction (to substances, people, new starts, the prospect of fame), dissatisfaction, and nihilism may limit the work's appeal; as with writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, some will become rabid devotees, while others will be turned off. This could be a good fit in academic libraries and larger public systems. [The title story appeared in Houghton Mifflin's Best American Essays 2006.-Ed.]
—Audrey Snowden

From the Publisher

Name five books and/or authors we all need to read?

I would submit that it’s almost impossible to really understand the full scope of human existence without having read Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces. The prologue alone is enough to open one’s eyes with an ecstatic bang. After that, I’d recommend Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna, Homo Ludens (it has nothing to do with gay cough drops) by Johan Huizinga, Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow and Poe Ballantine’s exquisitely funky 501 Minutes to Christ. Modesty forbids me (remember ego reduction?) from listing my own Skinny Legs And All.


TOM ROBBINS

Author of Jitterbug Perfume

Ballantine is never far from the trenches … the essays are readable and entertaining and contain occasional moments of startling beauty and insight. Still, the themes of addiction (to substances, people, new starts, the prospect of fame), dissatisfaction, and nihilism may limit the work’s appeal; as with writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, some will become rabid devotees, while others will be turned off.


LIBRARY JOURNAL


These authors have no idea what a pain in the ass it is filing titles that begin with numbers.


MATT PLIES, ANNIE BLOOM'S BOOKS


Ravishing work, my son. Voluptuously heartbreaking.


THOMAS AQUINAS


Anyplace around here I might wash my hands?


PONTIUS PILATE


How about 501 Minutes to Lunch?


BARABBAS


By grace, through faith, they offed my head in ’65, but I’m still here as you see, a Pharisee, a tortured wanderer, like this man Ballantine, by grace through faith, as to all those who wait, and shirk not the light of truth.


ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE


My soul yearns to know this most entangled enigma. I confess to Thee, O Lord, that I really have no idea what Poe Ballantine is talking about.


ST. AUGUSTINE

Author of The Confessions of St. Augustine

Okay, so I edited the Bible as you know it, and I was a pagan emperor and all that, but when my Franks and I marched outnumbered under the Christian standard and whipped those Goth mercenaries all the way to the Hellespont, Rome saw another glorious millennium. In hoc signo vinces. Remember also: Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time gone, Constantinople. Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night.


CONSTANTINE THE GREAT


Hey, that guy stole our song.


THE FOUR LADS


Shameless manipulation of Christian Iconography worked for me, and I’m not even a real blonde!


MADONNA


They weren’t talking to you, my dear.


MADONNA


Oh, you bore me, you’re all so boring.


SATAN


Excellent. Ballantine does his best to live an authentic life—the fact that he comes up short, every time, does nothing to make his search any less affecting.


MARY MILLER, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780983304968
Publisher:
Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,122,357
File size:
505 KB

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Meet the Author

POE BALLANTINE is a whiskey-drinking, floor-mopping, gourmet-cooking, wildly prolific writer with a penchant for social commentary currently living and working in Chadron, Nebraska. His work has previously appeared in The Atlantic Monthly Online, The Sun, Kenyon Review, and The Coal City Review. In addition to garnering numerous Pushcart and O’Henry nominations, Ballantine's work has been included in the 1998 Best American Short Story and 2006 Best American Essay anthologies.

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