Here are 30 dazzling short stories by eminent writers of widely varying persuasions dealing with the question of faith--both its presence and its absence. The stories range from the comic to the passionate, from the skeptical to the mystical. Some make their way into the perplexities of belief, some explore the hazy perimeter of unconditional love and forgiveness, and others examine the paradoxes of discipleship. All engage issues of deep and universal appeal. Gathered by an esteemed editor of The Atlantic Monthly, the stories in God: Stories offer insight and pleasure not only to the faithful but also to spiritual seekers--and to those who simply love fine stories.
A senior editor at the Atlantic Monthly and a seasoned anthologizer of fiction, Curtis has chosen 25 stories that directly and indirectly tackle the complex nature of faith and unbelief. Eminent authors--John Updike, Tobias Wolff, Philip Roth, Eudora Welty, Bobbie Ann Mason, James Joyce and Louise Erdrich among them--respond in manifold ways to the range of meanings captured by the word "God." The stories are alternately disturbing, humorous, mystical and pragmatic. Some of the characters, raised in religious conformity, buck against institutional hypocrisy (as in Joe Ashby Porter's "Roof Work"); others, like Brad in Updike's "Made in Heaven," "assumed that religion was already as dead as Marx and Mencken had claimed" but are attracted to believers. Cynthia Ozick's eponymous Rosa experiences both the shame of victimhood and the grace of redemptive kindness. The clergymen who inevitably populate this collection show themselves to be by turns unorthodox, humble, supercilious, corruptible. The unsettling residue left by these stories' many paradoxes invites the reader to intellectual, moral and metaphysical inquiry. (Dec.)