MORNING GLORY'S LONG LOST ORDER OF WORSHIP by Brian A. Massey (iUniverse)
This is the hidden antique in the corner of the old store that no one realized was a rare artifact. This is that diamond, that needle. The lotto ticket just came in.
How incredibly rare it is that I read a book this good (I am not talking POD here--I mean, at all.) I began Brian A. Massey's MORNING GLORY'S LONG LOST ORDER OF WORSHIP and I truthfully could not stop.
It is o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g.
Massey's light and quite humorous novel is about a young man who has overcome drug addiction (in the late 1960's--no small feat) and become a successful pastor at a Presbyterian church in South Carolina. Along with his ex-stripper wife (who found the Lord, too; they left the world of sin together) they have a happy existence--until a 19-year-old temptress comes onto the scene to disrupt everything the couple has built.
So it starts like this:
"It was one of those cruel summers in my life when I didn't know myself, and I didn't know God, and everyone around me seemed like a whirl of hateful ideas."
If you don't believe me, then trust Noah Lukeman when I tell you that there is nothing better than a beautiful, hooky first sentence. Further down:
"But this is dark-night-of-the-soul stuff, nothing special, an essay. Nothing any pastor or any believer couldn't say about the summer of 1968. The truth is, I call it a cruel summer not because of the assassinations of King and Kennedy or the endless war, but because in the middle of all my misery, a girl came to me and told me that she loved me."
On the mechanics: This book is wonderfully written and meticulously edited. It's one of the tightest books I have reviewed here.
On the writing: There are a lot of styles in Massey's book that would make it an intriguing read for fans of, say, Alice Sebold or Anne Ursu. However--the writing--that is, the prose and the rhythm and hand selection of words--is so alarmingly similar to Leif Enger's PEACE LIKE A RIVER (it even has a similar spiritual point, though arguably more liberal) that I had to pull out Enger's title and re-read portions. This is not over-the-top, purple writing here. These are beautiful, warm, intelligent sentences that are wonderful entities in and of themselves. I actually found myself re-reading sentences for the mere enjoyment of them--something I hadn't done since I finished PEACE LIKE A RIVER years ago.
Check out MORNING GLORY'S LONG LOST ORDER OF WORSHIP for $12.95 on Amazon--but it's so good I am going to recommend you buy it in hardcover ($22.95.) Trust me: it will get read over and over again.
Paul Cirone: If you ever stop by this blog, I must ask you this: why aren't you representing--and selling--this book?
As for the rest of us, just be happy you can buy and read it. It's what American literature is all about.