Father Joe by Tony Hendra
The Man Who Saved My Faith

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Synopsis

A key comic writer of the past three decades has created his most heartfelt and hard-hitting book. Father Joe is Tony Hendra’s inspiring true story of finding faith, friendship, and family through the decades-long influence of a surpassingly wise Benedictine monk named Father Joseph Warrillow.

Like everything human, it started with sex. In 1955, fourteen-year-old Tony found himself entangled with a married Catholic woman. In Cold War England, where Catholicism was the subject of news stories and Graham Greene bestsellers, Tony was whisked off by the woman’s husband to see a priest and be saved.

Yet what he found was a far cry from the priests he’d known at Catholic school, where boys were beaten with belts or set upon by dogs. Instead, he met Father Joe, a gentle, stammering, ungainly Benedictine who never used the words “wrong” or “guilt,” who believed that God was in everyone and that “the only sin was selfishness.” During the next forty years, as his life and career drastically ebbed and flowed, Tony discovered that his visits to Father Joe remained the one constant in his life—the relationship that, in the most serious sense, saved it.

From the fifties and his adolescent desire to join an abbey himself; to the sixties, when attending Cambridge and seeing the satire of Beyond the Fringe convinced him to change the world with laughter, not prayer; to the seventies and successful stints as an original editor of National Lampoon and a writer of Lemmings, the off-Broadway smash that introduced John Belushi and Chevy Chase; to professional disaster after co-creating the legendary English series Spitting Image; from drinking to drugs, from a failed first marriage to a successful second and the miracle of parenthood—the years only deepened Tony’s need for the wisdom of his other and more real father, creating a bond that could not be broken, even by death.

A startling departure for this acclaimed satirist, Father Joe is a sincere account of how Tony Hendra learned to love. It’s the story of a whole generation looking for a way back from mockery and irony, looking for its own Father Joe, and a testament to one of the most charismatic mentors in modern literature.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Tony Hendra

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TONY HENDRA attended Cambridge University, where he performed frequently with friends and future Monty Pythons John Cleese and Graham Chapman. He is the author of Going Too Far, a classic history of modern American satire. He was editor in chief of Spy magazine, an original editor of the National Lampoon, and he played Ian Faith in the movie, This Is Spinal Tap. He has written frequently for New York, Harper's, GQ, Vanity Fair, Men's Journal, and Esquire, among other magazines. He is married to Carla Hendra; they have three young children, Lucy, Sebastian, and Nicholas.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published May 18, 2004 by Random House. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Father Joe

Kirkus Reviews

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(Ah, those Dickensian proper nouns!) There, he came under the aegis of kindly, sweet, and surpassingly understanding Father Joe, who resembled a cartoon monk down to his knobby knees and flat feet—the late Edmund Gwenn could have played Joe to perfection.

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The New York Times

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He spares us no detail of his own iniquities as a parent: ''No father could have been more selfish -- treating his family like props, possessions, inconveniences, mostly forgetting them completely in his precious mission to save the world through laughter.'' But he never gives up on Father Joe --...

May 30 2004 | Read Full Review of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved...

The New York Times

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The only sin you've committed is the sin of .

May 30 2004 | Read Full Review of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved...

The New York Times

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(Tony Hendra has called the allegations "outrageous.") Jessica Hendra's memoir, "How to Cook Your Daughter," written with Blake Morrison, a journalist, provides details of her father's behavior and character that she asserts he omitted from "Father Joe."

Oct 30 2005 | Read Full Review of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved...

Publishers Weekly

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As Hendra reveals in this graceful, humorous tale, Father Joe acted not only as a confessor, but also as a friend and as the guiding spirit of Hendra's life (the author is now married with three children).

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Book Reporter

Along with a gaggle of smart (just ask us!) young men in New York, I worked with Tony Hendra on a number of humor projects two decades ago.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved...

Bookmarks Magazine

Bill Williams NY Times Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars "This extraordinary, luminescent, profound book shows us something wonderfully unexpected and deeply true.

Oct 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Father Joe: The Man Who Saved...

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