Displaced Souls by ProQuest

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Throughout the twentieth century, lively American fiction writers with a social conscience - among them Jean Toomer, William Carlos Williams, Tillie Olsen, and Grace Paley - experimented playfully with new ways to explore the lives of those on the margins of society, and invented clever forms for stories about workers, political protesters, and the poor. The strains of the surrounding poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse tell on the young volunteers, and the war forces many of the men to decide whether to publicly bum their draft cards and offer themselves up for hard terms in federal prison.

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									            Valerie Sayers                                                                                  LISTEN...
            Displaced	Souls                                                                                 PRAY...
            City	of	Belief
            Nicole d’Entremont
                                                           ters are mostly Catholic Workers and the
                                                           poor they live among in lower Manhat-
                                                           tan; d’Entremont herself was one of them,
                                                                                                            TAKE
                                                                                                             ACTION!
            Fox Print Books, $16, 242 pp.
                                                           and was friends with Roger La Porte (Jon-
                                                           athan Le Blanc in the novel), the young


            T
                     hroughout the twentieth century,      man who set himself ablaze in front of
                     lively American fiction writers       the United Nations. Some of the other
                     with a social conscience—among        fictional Workers are composites based


                                                                                                            I
            them Jean Toomer, William Carlos Wil-          on real people, d’Entremont tells us, and          n the United States and
            liams, Tillie Olsen, and Grace Paley—ex-       many names have been changed—but                   around the world, hunger
            perimented playfully with new ways to          historical war-resisters like A. J. Muste          is on the rise. You can help
            explore the lives of those on the margins      make appearances, and Dorothy Day her-           create hope and opportunity
            of society, and invented clever forms for      self is the focus of several brief interludes.
                                                                                                            for those in need by using
            stories about workers, political protesters,   Day’s flashes of tart, no-nonsense dia-
            and the poor. That experimental impulse        logue have the ring of a novelist’s authen-      Lenten Prayers for Hungry
            continues today, especially in the fiction     tic memory: she tells a young volunteer          People. This free resource
            of such writers as Sherman Alexie, Ed-         who no longer attends Mass that she’ll           from Bread for the World is
            widge Danticat, and Junot Díaz, even as        “never be able to continue this work”            a 6 x 9 inch “table tent” with
            it is informed by a more straightforward       without Communion.                               a scripture reading, prayer,
            realist tradition.                                “Sanctimonious old biddy,” thinks the         and action for each of the
               Nicole d’Entremont’s first novel, an        volunteer, Del—perhaps the closest this          five weeks of Lent as well as
            affecting account of the 1965 self-im-         novel has to a protagonist. Doubting,            for Holy Week.
            molation by a Catholic Worker protest-         even cynical, Del has left college and the
            ing all war, is both realist and modestly      church but is nonetheless still drawn to         Lent begins on February 17
            experimental: according to the author’s        the work of the soup kitchen named “St.          with Ash Wednesday. Order
            note, many of the chapters were original-      Jude’s” in these pages. As the summer            your free table tent today.
            ly composed as “sudden fiction,” or short,     of 1965 turns to fall, as Vietnam War
            intense narratives, told from multiple per-    deaths escalate and Americans divide
            spectives. The form works well, for the        themselves into pro- and antiwar camps,                 To order
            most part, in a book that probes a shock-      Del performs the corporal works of mercy,          Lenten Prayers for
            ing act from many angles. The charac-          peeling potatoes and sorting clothes.             Hungry People visit:

                                                                                                            www.bread.org/lent
                                                                                                                 or call toll-free
                                                                                                                1-800-822-7323                         Commonweal . December 18, 2009




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