A Handbook of American Prayer

A Handbook of American PrayerA Handbook of American Prayer by Lucius Shepard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing, astonishing novel! So subtle, so beautifully written, every word choice the perfect one. Some of the references feel dated, it’s true — Larry King is no longer on the air; Sharon Stone is no longer prevalent in the public eye — but these details nonetheless help ground the story with just the right amount of realism for the sly, understated metaphysical aspects to have that much greater power. The plot meanders a bit in the first half, which I suppose is what happens when the narrator, Wardlin Stuart, is basically meandering through life, but it picks up considerably in the second. My only real issue with the novel is that the female characters are portrayed reductively: most of them are defined as sex partners of the male characters, or trying to become their sex partners; all of them manage to have their breasts mentioned in some way. If you tend to notice that kind of thing, which I do, it starts to stick out. Still, looking past this shortcoming, the novel blew me away. This is my first Shepard book, but I doubt it will be my last. I’m only sorry it took me this long to discover him, what with my friends raving about his work to me for years now, and that I did so only after his untimely passing earlier this year.

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