So, this year I was so pleased to find not just one pleasant, attractive, talented female writer, but four. These four are all intelligent, humorous, dark-haired, slender literary women writers who also happen to be Christian:
- Leslie Leyland Fields, raising five boys with a fisherman husband on an Alaskan
island, writes nonfiction and memoir, such as her book about female commercial
fishermen, "The Entangled Net."
- Lauren Winner, a recent convert from Judiasm to Christianity, wrote the memoir "Girl
- Alice McDermott, a lapsed Catholic who returned to her faith, is author of the
novel Charming Billy.
- Mary Karr, a recent convert to Catholicism, is a poet/memoirist known for her
memoir The Liars' Club.
At reading from her most recent book, Surprise Child, which tells about her
emotional struggles when finding out that she was pregnant with her fifth son
at age 45, Leslie Leyland Fields says that the child was a surprise to her,
but not to God. "My pregnancy became a constant lesson in relinquishment."
What Lauren Winner misses most about Orthodox Judiasm, besides the people,
is the daily-life sense that we're living in a sacred universe. She recaptures
some of that sense by belonging to a church which reveres the sacrament of Holy
Alice McDermott believes that the artist reveals how something in our nature
rebels against our destiny. We are hopeful despite impending death. In the face
of our suffering, there is the hope of redemption. Every creative act is an
act of faith.
Mary Karr was a literary community member-in-good-standing before she became
a Christian. When she converted to Catholicism, her literary friends acted like
she'd admitted to something kinkier than a perverted sex act.
How do Leslie, Lauren, Alice, and Mary integrate their spiritual and artistic
lives, in a culture that tends to separate the two? Alice sees her job as a
novelist to lead her characters to the point where they realize that they need
redemption, but doesn't try to wrap up their stories with tidy solutions.
Leslie, Lauren, Alice, and Mary all have a great sense of humor and are pragmatic
about hard work. "You have to be willing to fail," Mary says, noting
that even if God directs her to write a book, that doesn't mean that that particular
book will be successful. "Maybe God wants me to learn about failure and
Photo: Lesley Leyland Fields