The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor's Disappearance by Benjamin Anastas

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Adultery, real estate, and religion collide in this new novel from "a bitterly funny" (The New Yorker) writer.

Reverend Thomas Mosher, the young black pastor of the Pilgrims' Congregational Church in W---, Massachusetts, has vanished without a trace. Does the rumored affair between Thomas and Bethany Caruso, unhappily married mother of two, provide an explanation? Did Thomas's esoteric final sermon, "The Shapes of Love" (positing that God is an "infinite sphere"), contain a clue? Did the overwhelmingly white, liberal parishioners drive him away?

Bethany and the rest of the congregants grapple with the ensuing crises. Chief among them: Artemesia Angelis, an unusually pious housewife with a fixation on the Puritan "heretic" Anne Hutchinson; Margaret Howard, matriarch of a thriving real estate business; and Bobby Caruso, Bethany's husband, whose lack of interest in church affairs is matched only by his wife's disdain for Bobby's "fornicatorium," a hapless, last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. "Where do people come from?" Bethany asks at the novel's end. "And where do they go? Who makes this world unbearable?" Benjamin Anastas's bold, blisteringly funny, and ultimately haunting satire of modern materialism marks the emergence of an astonishing talent.


About Benjamin Anastas

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Benjamin Anastas is the author of two novels, An Underachiever's Diary (1999) (hailed by Very Short List as "the funniest, most underappreciated book of the 1990s" on the occasion of its 2009 reprint) and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor's Disappearance (2001), a New York Times notable book, which Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) called "hands down, the best novel of the year." He's published articles in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Granta, and elsewhere, and received the 2005 Smart Family Fiction Prize from The Yale Review. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches creative writing at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Published May 1, 2001 by Farrar Straus Giroux. 288 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor's Disappearance

Kirkus Reviews

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Indeed, the lives of these and other characters command the narrative, while Thomas, a black man of mixed parentage, too awkward to have excelled in sports, and, for the most part, a mediocre lover, remains an enigma, his melancholy shadow hinted at through the lives of his flock.

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Publishers Weekly

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One faction of the church council, led by hard-driving realtor Martha Howard, thinks that Thomas's abrupt departure may be traced to an affair with married Bethany Caruso.

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