Good Catholic Fiction That Isn’t So … Catholic?

Good Catholic Fiction That Isn’t So … Catholic? June 5, 2013

… I’ve always wanted to write a book. A modern day collection of cautionary tales for young people offering up anecdotes from my own life. Hey kids, you don’t want to end up like your crazy Auntie Kat. But I fear what ever I compose might not be suitable for Catholic publishing’s delicate sensibilities.

Why, oh why is Catholic publishing so boring and sanitized?

Just today I got a catalog in the mail from a publishing company, that shall remain nameless, whose collection of works contained titles like The Tome Of Overly Pious Devotions, Hell Is Hot, Fun Is The Devil’s Plaything, Lives of Martyrs And Their Gruesome Deaths, Making Penance Fun, You’re Probably Sinning Right Now, and Immoral You. Oh, and can’t forget the classics; Summa this and summa that.

Catholic fiction? Fuggedaboutit! About as riveting as EWTN programming.

Why does Catholic fiction have to be so … Catholic? Like the only way it will appeal to other readers is if it takes place in a monastery and the main character is a priest. As rich with symbolism as Catholicism is I cannot understand the desire for publishing companies to prefer to sell books that are so clumsily obvious. Sure Catholics pray and junk. We love Mary and the Sweet Baby Jesus. But we love to laugh too. And cry. We have jobs and hobbies… besides going to adoration and making handmade rosaries. And not every vacation is a retreat taken at a convent.

When I start to read a book and right away the main character is “sitting in a pew clutching his well worn Douay Rheims Bible while the clicking sound of rosary beads fill his ear” I’ve already lost interest. Not that there’s anything wrong with sitting in church clinging to a Bible but it’s just soooooo cliche. It’s not even trying.

Oh well. Not every writer can be a Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor. In the meantime, here’s some stuff that doesn’t suck; Dappled Things and Korrektiv Press.

I will now take your non-obvious Catholic fiction suggestions.

PS – For something to be Catholic it doesn’t necessarily have to be Catholic. Kind of the point of this post. You know, books like Children of Men or The Reapers Are the Angels. Oooo. Speaking of apocalyptic fiction, someone mentioned A Canticle for Leibowitz, which is obviously Catholic but still fantastic none the less.

PPS – If your interested, check out Happy Catholic’s review of the Reapers book. It’s an entire book about ordinary and unexpected beauty… with zombies. If that doesn’t scream “Catholic” nothing does.

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