Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: February 2014
What saves us? It’s a question as old—and as urgent—as humanity itself. With this remarkable book, award-winning poet, essayist, and short story writer Gary Fincke opens an exciting new chapter of his career. Structured as a novel-in-stories, How Blasphemy Sounds to God explores our capacity for loyalty and love as it delves into the lives of people on the brink of faith. In prose so pitch-perfect you’ll forget you’re reading, Fincke lays open the hearts and souls of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, daughters and sons—each in their own way struggling to protect themselves from the chaos of life, reaching for things they only barely know exist…or fleeing those they can’t quite see. Set in the tumult of the nineteen sixties, How Blasphemy Sounds to God explores the lives of average people rocked by the seismic shifts around them: the specter of Communism, the war in Vietnam, the space race, the Kennedys and Camelot, and the many shifting social mores that spark and flash and too often catch fire. Whether it’s a young mother facing her mortality or a wife flaunting her sexual freedom in front of her husband or a father trying to prepare his child for the dangers of life, Gary Fincke handles the fragile lives of his characters with a respect and understanding that will take your breath away. Displaying the same unwavering sensitivity and brilliantly observed detail that brought him two Pushcart Prizes, a Flannery O’Connor Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize, and many other honors, Gary Fincke has produced a book of heart-breaking depth. Here is a writer at the height of his craft.
Gary Fincke has always been brilliant at limning the loneliness of the young and their confusion as they confront the greater mystery of the world. In following Corey Gillis through his hard lessons as America shifts from the McCarthy era through the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam and the Summer of Love, How Blasphemy Sounds to God takes on faith, doubt, love and disappointment with a winning, wry intimacy. As Corey's father says, being human means "You don't always end up doing what you expect to."
– Stewart O'Nan, author of Snow Angels and Emily, Alone
As the nation ticks into the Sixties, a boy comes of age in an era when carnival barkers could still convince you the headless girl was real. In brilliantly understated prose, Gary Fincke reels in his protagonist's future, step by riveting step, delivering grace even as the mirrors fall away.
– Nancy Zafris, author of The Metal Shredders and The Home Jar
With How Blasphemy Sounds to God, Gary Fincke has written another extraordinary work of fiction—a novel in stories—that explores the dark heart of America and the possibility that people may yet find a way to make their lives meaningful.
– Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown and The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards
The latest from the desk of one of the most wide-eyed writers living today, How Blasphemy Sounds to God is a quirky, complex story about piety—filial and otherwise. This book is honest, absorbing and relentlessly fresh. All my admiration for Gary Fincke, a true original.
– Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gary Fincke has published twenty-five books of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction, including The Proper Words for Sin (stories, 2013), The History of Permanence (poems, 2011), The Canals of Mars (memoir, 2010), and Amp'd: A Father's Backstage Pass, (2004)). Twice awarded Pushcart Prizes, Fincke has also been recognized by both the Best American Stories and the O. Henry Prize series, and cited twelve times in the past fourteen years for a "Notable Essay" in Best American Essays. In 2003, he won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for his story collection, Sorry I Worried You. His work has appeared in such publications as Harper's, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, and Ploughshares. Fincke is currently the Charles Degenstein Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University.