The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie
An American Pilgrimage

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...he largely ignores the recent reversal of fortunes undergone by the music-recording industry, and the re-emergence, both in popular and classical music spheres, of live concert culture as the dominant economic and artistic force.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The story of four modern American Catholics who made literature out of their search for God

In the mid-twentieth century four American Catholics came to believe that the best way to explore the questions of religious faith was to write about them-in works that readers of all kinds could admire. The Life You Save May Be Your Own is their story-a vivid and enthralling account of great writers and their power over us.

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk in Kentucky; Dorothy Day the founder of the Catholic Worker in New York; Flannery O'Connor a "Christ-haunted" literary prodigy in Georgia; Walker Percy a doctor in New Orleans who quit medicine to write fiction and philosophy. A friend came up with a name for them-the School of the Holy Ghost-and for three decades they exchanged letters, ardently read one another's books, and grappled with what one of them called a "predicament shared in common."

A pilgrimage is a journey taken in light of a story; and in The Life You Save May Be Your Own Paul Elie tells these writers' story as a pilgrimage from the God-obsessed literary past of Dante and Dostoevsky out into the thrilling chaos of postwar American life. It is a story of how the Catholic faith, in their vision of things, took on forms the faithful could not have anticipated. And it is a story about the ways we look to great books and writers to help us make sense of our experience, about the power of literature to change-to save-our lives.

 

About Paul Elie

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Paul Elie, for many years a senior editor with FSG, is now a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. His first book, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, received the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle award finalist in 2003. He lives in New York City.
 
Published March 10, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 594 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Guy Dammann on Jul 05 2013

...he largely ignores the recent reversal of fortunes undergone by the music-recording industry, and the re-emergence, both in popular and classical music spheres, of live concert culture as the dominant economic and artistic force.

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