Narrative Magazine has an excerpt from Maud Newton’s novel and it is top notch! A combination of light-hearted snark and Poe-like dark, which is exactly what most real childhoods consist of.
When I say Poe, I’m thinking of The Black Cat. When the protagonist killed the cat, I simultaneously cringed and identified with him. Not that I ever killed a cat, but I know that feeling remorse after doing something in anger. I think most kids do.
That one morbid thought aside, this is primarily a humorous and heartfelt hoot of a tale. I was cracking up over the daughter’s reactions to her mother’s weirdness. Again, just like real life.
The name of the excerpt is When the Flock Changed. Check it out:
My mother was a preacher until the cops shut her down. Well, okay, she kept at it halfheartedly in our living room for a while, but the fire had wiped out not just her warehouse church and the halfway house she ran out of it, but her passion, her commitment, and maybe even, deep down, her belief. All those years of serving the Lord, of taking to the streets to let the homeless and addicted and just plain lonely know what a friend they had in Jesus, and now she had no proper house of worship, no sea of folding chairs or repository of sermons on tape. She was practically a layperson. Worse, her flock knew it and was slipping away.
The church ladies saw the blaze as a sign of God’s disfavor. Mom had created a makeshift dorm in the sanctuary, a commercial space, and one of the guys had fallen asleep with a joint still burning. Maybe she shouldn’t have spent so much time ministering to the riffraff when there were perfectly normal people’s problems to attend to. Our Heavenly Father wouldn’t have let the church burn down if she’d been in tune with Him and His Word. So the flock was saying.
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