Anne Meisenzahl’s âLong Time Goneâ (TouchPoint Press, 2019) is everything a reader could wish for in a novel. It’s a deep dive into faith and doubt, brimming with insights into the current crisis in Christianity.
Meisenzahl, a resident of Tallahassee, will read and sign her book at Midtown Reader at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 9.
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While the violence of religious institutions is historic, Grace Schreiber’s trip to Buffalo, NY, to care for her conservative father, is also a search to rediscover a faith that had inspired her compassion and open heart for justice.
Grace leaves in Los Angeles the mysterious and tragic death of Frankie, her adult education student who first wrote about the priest who abused her as a child. He said, âIf people don’t tell their story where they’re from, they’re going to explode.
Meisenzahl’s debut novel resonates on every level as a story that must be told or we will all explode. It leaves no stumbling block of doubt or question of faith unexamined or glossed over. She wonders, for example, which writing we can take literally and which literally.
In the process, she quotes activist Thomas Merton, whom the church has silenced, and befriends a priest who himself questions gender inequalities and sexual injustices perpetrated by the church. .
How can grace reintegrate a faith that has become so compromised; how to get rid of privileged island authorities and cling to a Christ in the service of the poor? Are there multiple paths to God, and can she continue to question received wisdom without blocking her openness to God’s love?
Ultimately, Grace also takes a deep inner journey, one where she finally learns to trust her sister and close friends and to say out loud why she fled to California when she was secretly there. pregnant.
Grace volunteers to help the needy residents of St. Lawrence House, but wonders if selflessness can become obsessive. She discovers the need to keep her boat in balance by asking for help even as she gives herself freely to help a pregnant teenager and thus heal herself.
Along the way, she unwraps essential training moments: her tension with her savage older sister, her bewilderment at her parents’ tension over religious views and her mother’s hidden sacrifice. It is the final and most heartbreaking revelation of all.
Throughout her novel, Meisenzahl maintains the language rich in poetic lyricism, the complicated characters with down-to-earth needs and flaws. While seeking justice for Frankie’s family, Grace discovers that the church has engaged in systemic cover-ups and has exacerbated the criminal behavior of priests. She struggles to maintain her renewed spirituality with so many doubts that shake her faith.
The novel is fiction inspired by real events and characters, and this is what makes it a scintillating, essential and urgent read. It answers many lingering questions about the faith in America today, and therefore is one of the most important books I have read in years.
Meisenzahl has been teaching Adult Education and Outstanding Education for over 35 years. She received an MA from Bank Street College and an MA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. His poems and non-fiction have been published in numerous literary journals. She lives with her husband, writer Roger Peace, in Tallahassee and is a mother and grandmother.
Faith Eidse met Anne Meisenzahl at literary readings at Railroad Square and again while serving at the Tallahassee Writers Association book stand at Tallahassee’s Downtown Marketplace. Eidse’s memoir of her childhood amid the revolution, illness, and trauma of residential schools in Congo, Canada, and the United States is forthcoming.
If you are going to
What: Tallahassee author Anne Meisenzahl to read and sign her book
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, December 9
Or: Midtown Drive, 1123 Thomasville Road
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