Edited by Matthew Vollmer. Outpost 19, $18.50 paperback (234p) ISBN: 978-1937402761
Readers don’t necessarily have to be the praying type to connect with this remarkable anthology that riffs on The Book of Common Prayer, described on Wikipedia as “the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion.” Editor Matthew Vollmer strips away the bylines of this truly exceptional gathering of authors (credits are given at the back of the book) and allows the power of the pieces to do all the heavy lifting, clear of accreditation. This is a savory collection best enjoyed slowly, with heavier prayers for tolerance and patience served up alongside lighter fare with topics including divine intervention at sporting events to wedding vows and safe baby seats. A mother with a child in the next room seeks mercy while receiving a Brazilian wax; a reluctant angler implores god to cut the line to spare the unwanted adult attention and potentially haunting memories of fish that swallow hooks; an anonymous narrator asks absolution for the size of the moon’s heart: “The internal composition of the moon includes a core that’s three times smaller than that of the average terrestrial body. Forgive its smallness. Blessed are the meek…It has to beat thrice as hard for the moon to maintain its composure.” Throughout, the writing is frequently poetic and beautiful, circling back often to stories of parents seeking kindness and protection for their children as they mature and move through life. Perhaps the greatest success of this anthology is its ability to remind us that, despite our subjective dogmas or lack thereof, there is an ever-present mystery sewn into life, whether we call it god or science, and we are all part of a grand design worthy of contemplation and reverence. (April 2015)
Purchase A Book of Uncommon Prayer HERE.
Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at melbosworth.com