Raising the dead in Denise Giardina's Appalachian fiction.
Jennifer Holberg launched her September 2009 Books and Culture review of Denise Giardina's sixth novel by writing, "Emily Bronte hears dead people. Or at least she does according to the latest entry in the Bronte family literary sweepstakes, Emily's Ghost:' A spirited exchange between author and critic ensued on the Books and Culture website, where Giardina defended, among other things, her inclusion of ghosts in her fictionalized account of Bronte's life:
I was initially taken aback by the tone of the [review's] opening. "Emily Bronte hears dead people," Holberg begins. She goes on to say "Emily gets all Sixth Sense-y in the beginning and ending section of Giardina's novel (somehow, I guess, the otherworldly presences just aren't as convenient or necessary in the vast middle chapters of the novel)."
Well, no, nothing convenient or necessary about any of it. No one close to Emily dies in the middle sections of the novel, and in any event the "voices" are not meant to be some cheap special effect. The central point of Emily's Ghost is how we continue on with those who have died, our understanding that we are still connected through God's loving promise that death is not the last word. I have felt that with loved ones who have passed on; I suspect so have many people. This is not a subject to be treated trivially. To read such a flippant opening in a review from a Christian publication, of all places, was unsettling, to say the least. ("Chasing Emily Farther.")
In her reply, Holberg points out that among the ghosts Giardina's young Emily Bronte hears are those of three long-dead people who appear to have no relationship to her, who are not her "loved ones:' The story they tell is of their own disastrous love triangle, providing Bronte with the material she will later shape into Wuthering Heights.
Holberg's critique is spot-on, and Emily's Ghost, along with Fallam's Secret (2003), is one of Giardina's weaker novels. (1) As she notes in her follow-up to the review, however, Holberg, a professor of English at Calvin College, agreed to review Emily's Ghost because of her "respect for Giardina's previous work as a novelist" as well as her appreciation for Giardina's political activism and her own interest in Bronte studies. Giardina's other novels do indeed command respect, and often their strength emerges from her commitment to speaking for the dead--although not in the rather seance-esque manner of Emily's Ghost. In her fiction set in the Appalachian mountains, most notably Storming Heaven (1987) and its sequel The Unquiet Earth (1992), Giardina brings back to life her departed neighbors and the communities they populated--communities that are passing or are past.
In conducting these revivals in fiction, Denise Giardina has anticipated the literary assignment Wendell Berry sets forth in Imagination in Place (2010): to "transcend the limits of experience or provable knowledge in order to make a thing that is whole" (3). While he writes at length in Imagination in Place about others whose writing has informed his work, Berry asserts that his Kentucky farm landscape and community have been even more formative. "To farm is to be placed absolutely;' he contends (10). He finds support for his project in the work of Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh, who praised the "parochial" writer for never doubting "the social and artistic validity of his own parish. All great civilizations are based on parochialism--Greek, Israelite, English. ... Parochialism is universal; it deals with the fundamentals" ("The Parish and the Universe" 282-83). Berry suggests that his own writing springs largely from his longing to extend the intimate knowledge he already has of his physical home, to see his experience "clear and whole in the mind's eye" (4). In writing about the things he knows best, he finds that imagination must "[complete] the picture" (4). Berry's approach both requires and enables him to eschew abstraction and write precisely, to create believable characters, and to become an advocate for his rural Kentucky neighbors and their landscape. In an almost uncanny manner, Giardina has met Berry's challenge in writing her own novels set along the Kentucky/West Virginia border.
Although not a farmer, Denise Giardina resembles Berry in having deep roots in her own native region and in having recreated its detail precisely in fiction. While her father's parents were Sicilian immigrants to Appalachian coal country, her mother's family had lived in the mountains for generations. Giardina grew up in the Black Wolf, West Virginia, coal camp, where her mother worked as a nurse and her father kept the books, even as his own father and brother continued to dig coal. The particularities of her girlhood experience have enabled Giardina, as Steven D. Mooney asserts, to "recreate with incredible depth and complexity and humanity a place, a time, a people, and a culture that in some cases are literally gone, and that would be forever lost to us if not for [her] beautiful and permanent artistry" (14). In Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth, Giardina draws on her knowledge of her physical home "to see it clear and whole in the mind's eye" while letting her imagination "[complete] the picture" (Berry 4).
The realistic detail of Giardina's mountain fiction is a tribute to her community. In her acknowledgments to both novels, Giardina expresses appreciation to many individuals, but in The Unquiet Earth, she also thanks "the people of the Appalachian coalfields, especially in McDowell and Mingo counties, West Virginia, Floyd, Pike and Letcher counties, Kentucky, and the Massey and Pittston strikers of southwest Virginia and West Virginia, whose rich lives inspired this book." In the context of this specificity, she notes, "This is a work of fiction. Its characters have grown from an imagination influenced by many actual people, but they have taken on a life of their own in a very headstrong manner" (ix). In a personal interview, she revealed that among these "actual people" are her own family members. She explained that the union-organizing nurse Carrie Bishop in Storming Heaven "has [her] great-aunt's name but is more based on [her] mom" and that Carrie's great-niece Jackie Angelelli in The Unquiet Earth "is somewhat autobiographical, and [Jackie's mother] Rachel [Honaker]'s somewhat my mom, who was also an army nurse in the Philippines" (interview, 23 Sept. 2006). Rachel's character also marries a Sicilian immigrant's grandson, giving Jackie, like Giardina herself, an Italian surname.
In reflecting on links among her characters and people she has known, Giardina has spoken about the sense she has of a continuing bond between the dead and the living--a bond similar to the one Holberg detected and found so dissatisfying in Emily's Ghost. (2) Giardina has said she feels closer now to her late mother than she did in the final years of her mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease (interview, 23 Sept. 2006). She has alluded publicly to The Sixth Sense, the 1999 film Holberg mentioned in her review, humorously comparing herself to the boy character who says, "I talk to dead people" ("Religion in Appalachian Literature"). In an essay entitled "Coalfield Ancestors," Giardina explains her fascination with a cemetery outside Pocahontas, VA, not far from Black Wolf: "[I am] half Sicilian and half hillbilly, and both parts of me believe in spirits and ghosts, have believed since time immemorial. I felt a stirring in that cemetery, not of malevolence as much as disquiet, of a people who knew no peace in this world and then were ripped from it" (8). Writing fiction has enabled her to "resurrect" and honor such people. When interviewer Thomas Douglass asked her, "What good is it bringing all these dead people back to life as historical fiction?" Giardina replied:
I think part of my impulse to bring these dead people back to life is connected to bringing places back to life, communities back to life that have died. If we did a psychological profile, it might have to do with my being a child in a coal camp and getting expelled with a lot of other people about the same time--when I was about 13 years old, which is a pretty difficult time in our lives when we tend to be marked pretty easily.... I think losing my whole community, and not only leaving but having it torn down, really marked me, and so maybe I felt a need to recreate what had been lost. (31)
Robert L. Reid compares Giardina to Prospero in Shakespeare's Tempest, who "revives some of the underworld's most intriguing spirits.... [Giardina] finds the truth of history in epic quests that transcend it. From the ancestral past she resurrects a series of tragic, mythic figures who rise up in crisis to offer a mirror for aspiring souls" (2). Although her depiction of the Brontes in Emily's Ghost falls short of this praise, Giardina has indeed developed a "tragic, mythic" imaginative hold through Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth.
Interestingly, Bronte's fiction figures significantly in Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth. Early in Storming Heaven, Carrie Bishop recounts borrowing Wuthering Heights at age ten from Ben Honaker, the schoolteacher who later marries her older sister:
I loved it, just for the name of it, even before I read it. It has the sound of a lost and precious place, Wuthering Heights. I learned from that book that love and hate are not puny things. Nor are they opposed. Everything in this world that is calculating and bloodless wars against them both, wars against all flesh and blood, earth and water. Even now, when I whisper that name, Wuthering Heights, it is the Homeplace I see. My people crowd around me. ... And I see myself, waiting for Heathcliff, waiting for someone to come from outside, bearing with him both passion and menace. (30)
When a peddler and his ailing son take refuge with the Bishop family, Carrie hopes the boy will be her Heathcliff. Fourteen-year-old Albion Freeman, however, is too shy and too homely initially to fulfill her dreams. When Carrie goes as a young woman to nursing school in Justice, the Episcopal church reminds her of churches in Wuthering Heights (92). Although she eventually marries Albion, Carrie also finds passion with the brooding union organizer Rondal Lloyd, a Heathcliff-like figure. Hopping trains with him before the Battle of Blair Mountain, she dreams of "fairies and Wuthering Heights and great adventures" (245). In /he Unquiet Earth, Carrie and Rondal's son Dillon goes to see the 1939 film adaptation of Wuthering Heights with his cousin Rachel Honaker, who plays Cathy to his Heathcliff.
While their connections to Bronte's protagonists add to their intrigue, Giardina's characters become memorable in their own right. The expression these women and men give to their own struggles, rooted in their various allegiances, makes Giardina's coal-mining novels shine. Publisher's Weekly described the complex first-person narration of Storming Heaven as "[f] our strong, entirely different voices evok[ing] the passion and pain of unionizing the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia in the early twentieth century" (qtd. in Storming Heaven ii). Similarly, the Cleveland Plain Dealer praised The Unquiet Earth, marveling that "[t]he first-person voices of Giardina's numerous characters are amazingly clear and distinct, and over the course of the story, they accumulate a haunting choral power" (qtd. in Unquiet Earth i.) Giardina has won the W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South for Storming Heaven and/he Unquiet Earth, the Lillian Smith Award for the year's best Southern fiction and an American Book Award for The Unquiet Earth, and the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing for her body of work. (3)
Even though Giardina's Appalachian characters speak in regional dialect, their compelling concerns and commitments prevent them from ever falling into caricature. Wendell Berry's praise for the writing of James Still, another Appalachian writer from an earlier generation, applies easily to Giardina's prose:
Mr. Still's language is not that of "local color" or "regionalism." It is not "realistic" or "picturesque" or "quaint." It involves no condescension to the local. By it, simply, he gives his prose the economy, liveliness, and density of poetry. The speech of his characters is elegant, and it is eloquent. It is certainly not an obstacle to get over in order to learn the story, any more than is the language of Chaucer or Shakespeare. The story is in the language in which it is told, and nowhere else. (78)
Storming Heaven's opening, narrated by Cincinnatus Jefferson Marcum, exemplifies Giardinas characters' eloquence:
"They is many a way to mark a baby while it is still yet in the womb. A fright to its mother will render it nervous and fretful after it is birthed. If a copperhead strikes, a fiery red snake will be stamped on the baby's face or back. And a portentous event will violate a woman's entrails, grab a youngun by the ankle and wrench a life out of joint." (3)
The rustic-sounding poet-philosopher C. J., who mentors Rondal Lloyd, grows up to become as familiar with classic political documents as he is with local lore and, like all of Giardina's central characters, possesses a dignity that defies stereotype. In The Unquiet Earth, the equally admirable Loudly Day, a Pentecostal, offers comic relief through her colorful speech. In a scene in which the well-meaning Louelly and several of her neighbors attend a Roman Catholic Mass in an attempt to convince a visiting bishop that the less-than-effective local priest is doing good work, Louelly's glossalaia turns Latinate. Her brother-in-law Hassel (himself a memorable narrator) recounts:
"We don't even use Latin any more," the bishop says, like he can't figure out where he is. Loudly says, "I speak whatever the Spirit gives me to speak. And I am a Holy Roller, but I fellowship with anybody the Lord gives me to fellowship with, even a preacher that wears a quilt." (290)
As humorous as Giardina makes Louelly's observations, the character's tenacious faith and common-sense toughness are ultimately more laudable than laughable. Even Louelly's arch-enemy, the local politician Arthur Lee Sizemore, manages to demonstrate three-dimensionality. In his account of accepting a larger-than-expected bribe from the John E Kennedy's campaign before the 1960 election, Arthur Lee's speech retains a local flavor while revealing his socioeconomic status as well as his business-like manner:
"Good." He set the briefcase on the floor and left. I locked the office door and opened the briefcase. Stared at the stacks of cash, new and crisp, you would not expect old bills from a Kennedy. It took my breath away, and my fingers trembled when I started to count.... That one called for a cigar. Cuban, one of the last I ever smoked. Slickered people often enough, but that was the first time without trying. I became a born-again Kennedy man, from admiration and from pity. (136-37)
The egotistical Arthur Lee's dropped personal pronouns are a distinctive feature of his narration, but Giardina has him truly forget himself and rise far above his villainous role in the novel's climactic conclusion.
Although she has not indicated that she based C. J. Marcum, Louelly Day, or Arthur Lee Sizemore on anyone in particular, Giardina writes as if she is well-acquainted with them--or people very much like them. In an allusion to Huckleberry Finn in Imagination in Place, Berry emphasizes the importance of this kind of acquaintance:
Reading some fiction, and this applies especially to some Southern fiction, one cannot avoid the impression that the writers don't know any country people in particular and are in general afraid of them. They fill in the blank, not with anybody they have imagined, but with the rhetorically conjured stereotype of the hick or hillbilly or redneck who is the utter opposite of the young woman with six arms in the picture by the late ("Alas") Emmeline Grangerford, and perhaps is her son. He comes slouching into the universe with his pistol in one hand, his penis in another, his Bible in another, his bottle in another, his grandpappy's sword in another, his plug of chewing tobacco in another. This does harm. If you wish to steal farm products or coal or timber from a rural region, you will find it much less troubling to do so if you can believe that the people are too stupid and violent to deserve the things you wish to steal from them. (13-14)
Giardina's characterizations sometimes draw from the elements in Berry's devastatingly funny portrait, but readers can never dismiss her protagonists as stupid. Some, like Carrie Bishop and Rondal Lloyd in Storming Heaven, do get caught up in the violence around them (and understandably so), but others, such as Albion Freeman in the same novel and VISTA worker Tom Kolwieki in The Unquiet Earth, reflect Giardina's own commitment to nonviolent resistance to injustice.
Justice has long been one of Giardiana's central concerns, both in fiction and in life. She says that her decision to live and write in West Virginia, despite the widespread notion that successful West Virginians escape and never look back, helped her understand Dietrich Bonhoeffer's decision to return from New York to Nazi Germany in 1939. In an interview with Thomas Douglass, she explains the thought process that informed her account of the theologian's difficult choice in her 1999 novel Saints and Villains:
I [imagined] what it would be like if it had been West Virginia that Hitler was ruling, and I was living temporarily in England or somewhere. As much as I would hate Hitler and what was being done, I would want to go back home because it would still be home, still be the mountains, still be my family. If it was responsibility for doing a terrible thing and supporting a terrible ruler ... then I would have to bear that responsibility along with the people. (35)
While she acknowledges that the Holocaust "was a uniquely awful situation" Giardina says she does "think the same impulse create[d both it and West Virginia's Hawk's Nest disaster] to an extent" (35). In her coal-mining novels, characters including C. J. Marcum, Carrie Bishop, Albion Freeman, Rondal Lloyd, Dillon Freeman, and Jackie Angelelli have opportunities to leave home but feel compelled to "bear responsibility" in their native region.
Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center faculty member Brian Cole has considered the significance of Saints and Villains for Giardina as a regional writer. Cole concludes that a more accurate label for Giardina than "Appalachian writer" would be "call writer" but he notes that, for her, vocational "call" always emerges from place. "Her Bonhoeffer," he explains, "will come to realize the geographical nature of call" (30). Cole elaborates:
The subject of Bonhoeffer, therefore, is not a departure for an Appalachian writer but rather an appropriate subject for an Appalachian writer concerned with the idea of call and place.... Giardina's flank avowal of her identity as an Appalachian writer is actually a choice to be a certain kind of Appalachian writer according to her particular definition[:] ... "a writer concerned with "the affinities between Appalachia and other exploited places" and with the "political and spiritual dimensions of life." (30)
Cole's discussion of Giardina's sense of authorial calling sounds much like Berry's challenge to writers in Imagination in Place:
You will have to wonder too what will be the effect of your writing on that place. ... [I]n your own mind you are going to be using the health of the place as one of the indispensable standards of what you write. ... You have begun to ask also how things will be, how you want things to be, how things ought to be. You want to know what are the meanings, both temporal and eternal, of the condition of things in this world. (14-5)
Giardina admits in her interview with Douglass that she is most interested in characters like Bonhoeffer who make difficult choices and asserts that "the 'call to place' ... overrules the other choices. This is not to say that place is like a dictator. People aren't very aware of turning themselves over to that choice, of allowing what is in fact the call" (32). In Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth, her protagonists risk their fortunes, their relationships, and sometimes even their lives to in response to their vocational callings to serve their neighbors.
For Denise Giardina herself, answering the call has meant not only addressing Appalachian justice issues in print but also taking political action. Ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1979, Giardina requested and received a parish assignment near her childhood home. She ran afoul of church authorities in young adulthood when, as an Episcopal deacon, she led an investigation of local land records showing that eighty-five percent of McDowell County, West Virginia, land belonged to out-of-state corporations. When she and her neighbors began calling for higher tax rates for absentee landholders, some parishioners objected. One former ministry colleague, the Rev. Jim Lewis, asserts that "the church double-crossed her. The bishop didn't give her the support he should have" (Carlson C1). Disillusioned, Giardina left the church and soon went to work for Democratic representative Bob Wise in Charleston. Ultimately dissatisfied with both major political parties, she ran as a third-party candidate in the 2000 gubernatorial race, championing clean air and water, community-based schools, and protection for local businesses while denouncing King Coal interests, a food tax, and legalized gambling. Although she lost the election, Giardina had secured the signatures of more than 18,000 West Virginians, twice as many needed to establish her "Mountain Party" as the state's only independent political party. "I try not to let the other candidates get away with things" she said in a November 2000 interview with The Progressive. "I'm trying to force them ... to take some good stands. That's really what third party candidates have always done--on everything from slavery to social policy right up to Ralph Nader this year talking about corporate power" (Nichols 32). Eschewing traditional party labels, Giardina declared in a Charleston Gazette campaign article, "I am proud to stand against mountaintop removal, as a Christian and as a West Virginian. These are the only two labels that are important to me" ("Giardina's Run"). Clearly, her theological and environmental-political concerns have driven her decisions beyond the realm of fiction.
Any writer as committed to an agenda as Giardina risks didacticism. Wendell Berry acknowledges this risk in Imagination in Place:
Advocacy, as a lot of people will affirm, is dangerous to art, and you must beware the danger, but if you accept the health of the place as a standard, I think the advocacy is going to be present in your work. Hovering over nearly everything I have written is the question of how a human economy might be conducted with reverence, and therefore with due respect and kindness toward everything involved.... By means of the imagined place over the last fifty years, I have learned to see my native landscape and neighborhood as a place unique in the world, a work of God, possessed of an inherent sanctity that mocks any human valuation that can be put upon it. If anything I have written in this place can be taken to countenance the misuse of it, to excuse anybody for rating the land as "capital" or its human members as "labor" or "resources" my writing would have been better left unwritten. And then to hell with any value anybody may find in it "as literature." (15-16)
He spoke even more colorfully on the subject during a panel discussion with Giardina and Ann Pancake at the 2008 Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Roanoke, Virginia. When an audience member praised a piece of Berry's writing as "a classic," the author replied bluntly:
What I say is, to hell with it as a classic. If it only becomes a classic after all the coal is ripped out and the mountains are ruined, then I'm not interested. I'm a writer, and I guess writers ought to be interested in writing classics, but I'm seventy-four years old, and the older I get, the less of a damn I give about whether anybody likes it or not. I'd like them to believe it. ("The Role of Fiction in Activism")
If anything, fans of Berry's fiction seem to find that his political and social concerns enrich it, and the same is true of Giardina's best work.
Perhaps Emily's Ghost's shortcomings lie in the gap between its rather broad main premise ("how we continue on with those who have died, our understanding that we are still connected through God's loving promise that death is not the last word") and the more focused, parochial (as Berry and Kavanaugh use the term) agenda of Giardina's Appalachian novels. As much as Giardina may admire Wuthering Heights and even see points of connection between the West Yorkshire moors and the Appalachian Mountains, her effort to look beyond the grave in Hawarth falls flat in a way that similar efforts set in her own West Virginia have not.
During the Society of Environmental Journalists conference panel with Berry and Pancake, Giardina discussed her hopes for the ravaged regions of West Virginia and Kentucky:
I'm going to sound like a fundamentalist Christian here, but it's Sunday morning, and I am a Christian, and actually for me that's where it comes down. ... I look at this world, and the way it's been destroyed, and ... I believe in another world, too, and somehow God can restore that. Because we're sure--we're fucking it up pretty badly. [Pause for laughter.] (I like to cuss when I talk about being a Christian.) [More laughter.] When I get really discouraged, I just have to say I've got to pray and hope that God is going to restore this. One of the phrases I like to use about the mountains is that the mountains still exist in the mind of God, and that someday God will bring them back. That's what I hope for. ("Role of Fiction")
Although the audience laughed at her juxtaposition of profanity with a profession of Christian faith, Giardina herself was audibly choking back tears by the end of her statement. The emotion she expressed at this meeting takes the form of righteous anger in The Unquiet Earth and Storming Heaven. That anger, rooted in her experience of living in a devastated area and fed by her hope in a resurrecting God, has given her Appalachian novels their remarkable power. Giardina declared in a 1988 interview with Tim Boudreau that "[g] rowing up in Appalachia is what made me a writer. Staying here is what keeps me the kind of writer I want to be" (10). That kind of writer has demonstrated more than once that she knows how to "transcend the limits of experience of provable knowledge in order to make a thing that is whole" (Berry 3). May she write on to do so--to raise the dead--again.
Eastern Mennonite University
Alter, Lisa, Fred Chappell, Denise Giardina, and Robert Morgan. "Religion in Appalachian Literature" Panel. Emory and Henry College, Abingdon, VA. 23 September 2006.
Berry, Wendell. Imagination in Place. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.
Berry, Wendell, Denise Giardina, and Ann Pancake. "The Role of Fiction in Activism" Panel. Society of Environmental Journalists Annual Conference, Roanoke, VA. 19 October 2008. Web.
Boudreau, Tim. "Fighting Back: Denise Giardina Talks About Storming Heaven." Now and Then 5:1 (Spring 1988): 9-10.
Carlson, Peter. "Third-Party Candidate is Out to Save Her World" Washington Post (25 October 2000) C01.6 March 2004. Web.
Cole, Brian. "Bonhoeffer Today." The Iron Mountain Review: Denise Giardina Issue 15 (Spring 1999): 28-30.
Douglass, Thomas, and Denise Giardina. "Resurrecting the Dead, Recognizing the Human: A Conversation." The Iron Mountain Review: Denise Giardina Issue: 31-38.
Giardina, Denise. "Afterword." Saints and Villains. 1998. New York: Fawcett, 1999.
--. "Coalfield Ancestors." The Iron Mountain Review: Denise Giardina Issue: 4-8.
--. "Giardina's Run Already a Victory," The Charleston Gazette. 26 Sept. 1999.6 March 2004. Web.
--. Interview with the author. The Starving Artist Care, Abingdon, VA. 23 September 2006.
--. Storming Heaven. New York: Ivy, 1987.
--. The Unquiet Earth. New York: Ivy, 1992.
Giardina, Denise, and Jennifer Holberg. "Chasing Emily Farther: An Exchange Between Denise Giardina and Jennifer Holberg" Books and Culture Online. Sept. 2009. Web.
Holberg, Jennifer. "Chasing Emily: The Latest Entry in the Bronte Family Literary Sweepstakes" Books and Culture Online. Sept. 2009. Web.
Kavanaugh, Patrick. "The Parish and the Universe" Collected Prose. Worcester and London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1967.
Mooney, Stephen D. '"Beyond Measure': An Appreciation of Denise Giardina's Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth:' The Iron Mountain Review: Denise Giardina Issue: 9-14.
Nichols, John. "A Novelist Runs for Governor:' The Progressive 1 Nov. 2000. 32. Web.
Reid, Robert. "The Editor's Page." The Iron Mountain Review: Denise Giardina Issue: 2.
(1) Fallam's Secret is a time-travel romance whose protagonist travels between contemporary Appalachia and Cromwell's England.
(2) The significance of connections among the living and the dead is, of course, also a central theme in Berry's fiction.
(3) Saints and Villains, another of Giardina's most effective novels, won the 1999 Boston Book Review Fisk Fiction Prize and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Giardina's fictional account of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life takes advantage of a gap in historical records of his travels during his Union Seminary years to situate him briefly in the author's own home terrain. Giardina makes Bonhoeffer's encounter with dying industrial workers in Hawks Nest, West Virginia, vital to the discovery of the ethicist's own dangerous vocation in Nazi Germany.
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|Author:||Eads, Martha Greene|
|Publication:||Christianity and Literature|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2013|
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