A sweeping posthumous collection wrestles with faith, irony, and the redemptive nature of love.
Kirkus starred review
Howling, savagely powerful short stories [that] dramatize the brutal collisions of divine will and human nature. They abound in grace.
Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
This collection is luminous and breathtaking, varied and delightful and surprising, scattering perfectly shaped gems before us.
David Vann, Financial Times
[The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast] embraces the messiness of living and inspires us to reconcile our innermost beliefs with our deepest desires.
Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle
L’Heureux’s sentences express a devotional cadence… their willingness to extend themselves, to fold in additional adverbs and adjectives and absolute phrases, is a mark of desire, the wish to prolong the palliative properties of prayer.
Bailey Trela, On the Seawall
Moral possibility, and the unexpected or ironic circumstances in which it reveals itself, animate this posthumous collection of short works.... an insatiable longing for integrity and wisdom, wherever they may be found.
The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast is full of such moments of grace... L’Heureux’s stories move, often within a single paragraph, from the ridiculous to the humane to the sublime.
Ellen O’Connell Whittet, America
Devoted to moments of grace and epiphany, but also devoted to the darkest corners of human existence....The final story, “Three Short Moments in a Long Life,” and its final line, will pierce you.
Bethanne Patrick, Lit Hub
A posthumously published collection by beloved local author John L'Heureux, a former Jesuit priest and the longtime director of the Stanford Creative Program, is the book I keep at my bedside. These illuminating stories range from humorous to tragic, each a true gift of compassion and grace.
Aggie Zivaljevic (Kepler's Books), the Almanac
John L’Heureux’s work is revelatory. In the way of master writers, so much of what he accomplishes on the page seems effortless and organic, divinely inspired. This book will change you, and his voice and his characters will stay with you long after you leave them.
Highly recommend The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast by John L'Heureux. Darkly funny, bittersweet, audacious, tender... it is so sad to think that we will have no more short stories from this master of the form.
Joyce Carol Oates
Bursting with elegant prose and capturing the deepest yearnings of the human heart, this collection stands as an invaluable testament to John L’Heureux’s life and work.
David Henry Hwang
[His] stories embody a strong sense of humor about the vagaries of faith and life and the fragility of human convictions…. He allowed his characters both their comic foibles and their occasional, unexpected moments of grace.
These storiesinterweaving the mundane with the profound, tragedy with comedyare relentless, hilarious, sly, and astonishing. One can find every aspect of life here: ambition and disappointment, franticness and triumph. But these stories are more than just a chronicle of life. At a time when we are increasingly waylaid by the transient and discardable, this collection of a writer’s lifework feels like an essential and heroic act; and restores a true faith in life.
John L'Heureux's fiction tears straight through the veil that separates the mundane from the ineffable. Read these stories for their grace, their wit, and most of all for the occasional ecstatic flash of the holyunmistakable, thrilling, and unexpectedly comforting.
The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast is a brilliant collection, a showcase of John L’Heureux’s vast talents. These stories are incisive, sometimes sardonic, always complex and always marked by John L’Heureux’s intense compassion for his charactersand the rest of us.
The stories in The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast serve as a capstone to L’Heureux's life
James McElroy, Washington Examiner
Praise for John L'Heureux
In reading his work, one can see, feel, the demands he makes on himself for exactitude, essence, emotional honesty, aesthetic freshness, digging deep for the truths of our thoughts and desires and presenting his findings without flinching, evenno, especiallywhen they challenge our self-conceptions and certainties, and trouble the heart.
"The functions of American art, religion and philosophy are what L'Heureux is concerned about. He seems to be saying, isn't our 20th-Century insistence on the perfectly realized, 'realistic' external detail just essentially and eternally boring? Wouldn't it be better, for our art if not for our own individual lives, if we recognized other, larger grids on which to play out our dramas; wouldn't it make sense to postulate a supernatural good, an ecstatic Absolute, and then order our own lives as if those things existed? It would be more exciting, that way, more 'meaningful,' more elegant."
Carolyn See, Los Angeles Times
"Mr. L'Heureux demonstrates his remarkable capacity for narrative inventionhis ability to pack a single slender story with enough incident to fill a novel; his ability to summarize entire lives in a couple of pages... to turn the narratives into beguiling moral fables that illuminate the possibility of the miraculous in our time."
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"John L'Heureux's vision is eerie and unmistakably his own... These, then, are oblique, ironic moral fables, and they are written in a spare, elegant and witty prose."
Johanna Kaplan, New York TImes
"L'Heureux chronicles the modern search for God amidst the apparent randomness of everyday life with all the grace and style of the great writers of religious fiction... L'Heureux's fiction flourishes when his characters are God-crazed and spiritually hungry."
"L'Heureux, in a sentence, can convey enormous pain."
Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"Loose cannons are John L’Heureux’s specialty... He writes quietly, almost tenderly... about faith and about regular people."
Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"[L'Heureux's] elegant, spare prose [provides] a bridge across the gulf of such treacherous subjects as God, death and man's failure to live with integrity."
Linda Gray Sexton, New York Times