HNP Today occasionally provides recommendations of publications that are relevant to friars and partners-in-ministry. Two books are recommended this month: one was featured in the bulletin of an HNP ministry, the other was written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus of Siena College and suggested by a friar.
Blue Nights by Joan Didion (Knopf, 2011), was featured in the Jan. 1 issue of Connections, an online newsletter for homilists and preachers. The article was reprinted in the “Making the Connection” section of the Jan. 1 bulletin of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, N.C., where Daniel McLellan, OFM, is pastor. Blue Nights is the follow-up to Didion’s 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, which chronicles her grief following the sudden death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. Her new book describes the failing health of her daughter, Quintana, who died at age 39 shortly before Magical Thinking was published. The Connections article compared Didion’s memoir to the Gospel reading from Luke for the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary: “As both Mary and Joan Didion discover, it is in reflecting on our memories that we realize the presence of God in the many ordinary events and everyday exchanges of our lives. In the midst of our fears and suspicions, in our paranoia and misunderstandings, in our feelings of love and loss, God is there.”
Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy (Penguin Group, 2011), is recommended by Peter Fiore, OFM, a Siena College classmate of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ironweed. Chango’s Beads follows a young journalist, Daniel Quinn, as he reports on the Cuban Revolution of 1957 and the free speech and civil rights movement in Albany in 1968. Throughout the course of the novel, Daniel meets a Franciscan friar who teaches at Siena, based on a friar that Kennedy knew at Siena. It is the eighth novel in Kennedy’s “Albany Cycle” series, which is, according to Peter, “a witty and vivid portrait of Kennedy’s birthplace… over a period of a century.” Kennedy recently visited his alma mater to speak to students and members of the college’s board of trustees. In a review of his colleague’s work, Peter said, “If you can imagine a great symphony made up of memory and nostalgia, comedy and drama, of civil rights, politics, and revolution, of love, compassion, and redemption, then you have Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes.”
The HNP Communications Office welcomes emails from readers who would like to suggest a book or periodical. Themes that are relevant to friars and partners-in-ministry — in addition to spirituality and news of the Catholic Church — include topics affiliated with Holy Name Province committees and directorates: evangelization, vocations, justice and peace, young adults, African-American and Hispanic ministries, and wellness.
— Compiled by Vicky Wolak