Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"The Churchgoer"

Patrick Coleman makes things from words, sounds, and occasional pictures. His debut collection of poems, Fire Season, was written after the birth of his first child by speaking aloud into a digital audio recorder on the long commute between the art museum where he worked and his home in a rural neighborhood that burned in the Witch Creek Fire of 2007. It won the 2015 Berkshire Prize and was released by Tupelo Press on December 1, 2018. His short-form prose has appeared in Hobart, ZYZZYVA, Zócalo Public Square, the Writer's Chronicle, the Black Warrior Review, Juked, and the Utne Reader, among others. The Art of Music, an exhibition catalogue on the relationship between visual arts and music that he edited and contributed to, was co-published by Yale University Press and the San Diego Museum of Art. Coleman earned an MFA from Indiana University and a BA from the University of California Irvine. He lives in Ramona, California, with his wife and two daughters, and is the Assistant Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Coleman applied the Page 69 Test to his first novel, The Churchgoer, and reported the following:
On page 69, Mark Haines—the ex-Evangelical pastor now security guard protagonist of The Churchgoer—loses his job. Fired isn’t exactly right, but that’s how it feels to him; we have a tense bit of dialogue between Haines and a wealthy real estate investor, Gustafsson, who has decided to step up his security in the wake a shooting that left Haines’s co-worker dead. That death has already dropped the bottom out on Haines; he wouldn’t have called the guy a friend because he tries not to call anyone a friend, but they’d worked together for years and it picks at the scab of a deeper wound. Cindy, the drifter whom he’d let crash at his house, has already disappeared on him. But it’s here that Haines’ paranoia starts to appear—his willingness to see connections between disparate events—that sets him on his search for Cindy and puts him on a collision course with his past. Page 69 is not necessarily the most representative moment of prose, but it is a crucial moment in the plot as Haines’s apophenia carries him farther and farther afield across San Diego, the drug trade, and the Evangelical world he’d once called home. His reaction to Gustafsson here—his anger getting away from him—sets him on his path.
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Churchgoer.

--Marshal Zeringue