Saturday, January 25, 2014

"The Gospel of Winter"

Brendan Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. His writing has appeared in Fiction, Guernica, The AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.

Kiely applied the Page 69 Test to The Gospel of Winter, his first novel, and reported the following:
From the text:
“No,” I said, “you’re probably right. But maybe it’s because everyone is too afraid.”

Mark looked at me. “Of what?”

“I don’t know. Everything. Maybe everyone’s just faking it because that’s all there is.”

“So they can’t get real?” Mark asked. “That’s depressing.”

“Tell them to take their fucking faces off,” I said, but it felt weird now to say that so casually. “They can’t, right?”

Mark gazed down into the river, and I did too. The chunks of ice and dead foliage floated from beneath the bridge and zigzagged out to the harbor. “But we can,” he said. “We are.”
In this scene, two friends, Aidan and Mark, address one of the central questions of the novel: what are the consequences of sharing our most vulnerable truths? Aidan harbors a truth that terrifies him: he knows the danger a predatory priest in the local parish poses for the rest of the community. He can’t bring himself to discuss what he knows, though, and the struggle with whether or not to tell this truth (and others) haunts Aidan throughout the book.

Though Aidan is isolated from the high school social scene, in this chapter, he has been invited to a small party where he begins to form fledgling friendships with three classmates: Mark, Josie, and Sophie. After smoking too much pot, Mark and Aidan leave the party together to stumble home. As they walk, they begin to open up to each other. Forming real, meaningful friendships might be the first step in Aidan’s finding the strength and courage to speak up—as Mark suggests in this conversation, the secret to sharing a secret is in the sharing.

Aidan can’t completely shake his cynicism and reserve, however. The silence hurts, but he’s afraid that airing what he knows will hurt even more.
Learn more about the book and author at Brendan Kiely's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue