Synopses & Reviews
In this landmark collection of original essays, twenty-one prominent writers approach the New Testament with a fresh eye toward its meaning for them and for us today.
Coming to the New Testament from a variety of backgrounds, the writers in this collection have all found, as adults, a need to reapproach spirituality in novel ways. Seeking to reconcile their experiences growing up in the baby boom and Generation X years with their political beliefs and the fractious ethics of the late twentieth century, the contributors have gone back to the source text of Christianity, the New Testament. From a variety of unexpected leaping-off points, the essays in Joyful Noise bring us interpretations of "the greatest story ever told" that are eye-opening, personal, and powerful.
It is the freshness of these voices and the absence of dogma or cant that give this collection its force. Some of the writers come at Christianity through childhood memories, as in Lisa Shea's "The Good Enough News," in which her adolescent ideas about the Gospels are filtered through a burgeoning sexual awareness, and in Barry Hannah's profoundly moving recollection ("Sermon with Meath") of a despised childhood acquaintance who went on to find peace as a minister. Other pieces confront particular books of the New Testament, as in Joanna Scott's celebration of the rapturous paradoxes of Revelation and bell hooks's exploration of the idea of perfect love articulated in the First Epistle of John. Still other essays focus on religion in everyday life, such as Benjamin Cheever's funny and bittersweet appreciation of the comforting rituals of a Protestant church service and Ann Patchett's arresting observations of a Southern Christian sect whose members, as a sign of faith, handle poisonous snakes.
Whatever its orientation, each essay in Joyful Noise is passionate, new, and thought provoking. Edited by novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke, who provide the Introduction and the Afterword, and including such diverse contributors as interdisciplinary artist Coco Fusco, painter and art critic Stephen Westfall, poet Catherine Bowman, and journalist Ann Powers, Joyful Noise is an inclusive book, a polyphonous book, and a welcome offering on spirituality at the millennium.
"Some of the best young American writers yank the Bible back from the far right with these personal essays on the relevance of faith in our increasingly faithless times." Details
"A book about Christianity that is as accessible as its wonderful title suggests. . . . The collective noise of these 21 extremely distinct voices creates a happily off-kilter tone." William Georgiades, Time Out New York
"A heartfelt, surprising, frank, sometimes sad, and often funny book whose literary quality is consistently high. . . . It offers fresh evidence of the power the Gospel message holds for those seeking spiritual and moral anchors." Jane Lampmann, Christian Science Monitor
"This invigorating collection reminds us that Jesus not only raised Lazarus but considerable Cain as well, and that wrestling with the divine can put us in closer touch with our humanity." Virginian-Pilot
"Wonderful. . . . Anyone of any faith, atheists included, might well find in this collection what I found, essays rich in truth and high in literary quality--playful, creative, profound." Alice Evans, Eugene Weekly
Paperback is the ideal format for this acclaimed anthology in which twenty-one prominent American writers -- all of whom came of age in the baby boom and Generation X years -- look at the New Testament with a fresh eye toward its meaning for them, and for us, today. These thought-provoking essays will reassure, excite, and inspire anyone who has felt the need to approach spirituality in a personal or unorthodox way.
With an introduction by Rick Moody and an afterword by Darcey Steinke, Joyful Noise includes contributions from:
Madison Smartt Bell -- April Bernard -- Catherine Bowman -- Joseph Caldwell -- Benjamin Cheever -- Lydia Davis -- Jeffrey Eugenides -- Eurydice -- Coco Fusco -- Lucy Grealy -- Barry Hannah -- bell hooks -- Jim Lewis -- Ann Patchett -- Ann Powers -- Joanna Scott -- Lisa Shea -- Stephen Westfall -- Kim Wozencraft
Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences -- and come up with their own personal interpretations of Christian tenets.
Moody and Steinke's renewed interest in Christianity struck a chord with other notable writers -- and the result is this extraordinary collection of original essays. Gathering together some of the freshest and most thought-provoking voices in contemporary literature -- including Madison Smartt Bell, Benjamin Cheever, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lucy Grealey, bell hooks, Ann Padgett, Joanna Scott, and Kim Wozencraft -- joyful Noise offers a fascinating range of probing and very personal interpretations of what Christianity means today. Whether it's Kathy Bowman's poetic riffs on the significance of "Jesus's Feet" or Barry Hannah's guilt-tinged recollections of a neighborhood outcast who went on to find fulfillment as a hippie minister, these remarkable and wonderfully eclectic meditations are sure to find an eager audience among boomers and twentysomethings looking to renew their faith.