Has the summer heat gotten you down? Fear not! The cool new edition of Dappled Things is sure to refresh you with an invigorating selection of prose, poetry, and art.
Our fiction this issue runs the gamut from the weighty to the wild. We have Dena Hunt’s The Funeral, a moving meditation on the finitude of human loves, followed by a story that features a troop of Dominican friars dispassionately considering whether they should eat each other or not—Eleanor Donlon’s wacky but affecting De virtute cannibalismi—and conclude with Tony France’s The Ninth Floor, the often bizarre tale of a young thief set on making off with the treasures of a legendary department store:Leyland’s catalogue was a thousand pages filled with hope, joy, and goodwill. The actual wares offered for sale seemed like a pretext for displaying tapestries, paintings, mosaics, frescoes, fountains, statuary rising above cobalt blue pools, hanging gardens, tropical forests, marble temples, and ancient ruins. Walking into the blue and gold aura of the Leyland’s Fifth Avenue main entrance reinforced the impression that at Leyland’s, merchandising, although necessary, served an ulterior motive.
If you’re looking for solid non-fiction, we’ve got that too. Eileen Cunis delves into the Catholic tradition for insight in her essay “What is Art?,” the first installment of a three part series titled “On the Vocation of the Christian Artist.” Then in “The Wisconsin Baroque, Priests, and Paper Architecture” Matthew Alderman lays out a vision of how sacred architecture might develop in the future by building on—rathern than discarding—the foundations laid out in the past. Along those line, our featured article this issue—”Restoring the Fresco of Progress” by Dr. Wilfred McClay—considers the danger of paralysis in a culture that has come to question the very possibility of positive change:But our compulsive belief in progress is being challenged constantly by the honesty of our unbelief. Hence when we speak of progress, it is so often “progress” that we speak of. The use of sneer quotes is often a way of pretending to be superior to the concept being quoted, and to those who would be so naïve or mendacious as to use the words without critical distance. But their use may also be a way of frankly confessing one’s inability to get beyond straddling an issue. It may even be a way of evading the law of noncontradiction, by both asserting and not asserting something at the same time. A way of saying tacitly what was once said biblically: “Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.” (Mark 9: 24)
If you are looking for a new book to read this summer, make sure to check out Bernardo Aparicio and Katy Carl’s interview with Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy. Eire’s book won the National Book Award in 2003 and is a gem of Catholic literature that has remained hidden only to Catholics. In this thought-provoking interview, our president and editor-in-chief give this fascinating memoir the long-overdue attention it deserves:Eire’s voice is one we overlook at our own loss. His memoir, though a work of non-fiction, is suffused with the magical realism of the best Latin American novels. His is the kind of realism that grows out of an understanding that reality is, indeed, magical—full of depth and possibility, sacramental. Eire’s facts are never flat; he can follow the simplest details in surprising directions, all of which lead to either hilarious or deeply poignant conclusions, most often both. For this reason, even as Waiting for Snow succeeds as a memoir of childhood and exile, it accomplishes much more than that. Something solid moves beneath the words. Don’t be surprised at that. It is Augustine, not Rousseau, that Professor Eire is echoing in the memoir’s subtitle: Confessions of a Cuban Boy.
If poetry and art is what you crave, you have come to the right place. Just consider artist James Dean Erickson’s beautiful and moving portraits of humble workers and homeless men. Erickson uses everyday materials to create works of fine art, a method that supports his interest in highlighting the dignity of those we so often turn away from in the street. And as Erickson paints with brushes our poets paint with words: take a look at Meredith Wise’s “Roman April” or John Savoie’s “Beads,” among many others, to see what we mean.
These are just some of the many excellent fiction pieces, essays, poems, and works of art that we have prepared for you this time.
Wishing you a joyful and blessed summer,
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