Just A Little Talk

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Category: Contemporary
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Date Published: December 6, 2011
Number of Pages: 116
Print Price: $4.71
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In 2009, Anthony Crescio’s best friend was killed in an auto accident, caused by drunk driving. Since that time, Mr. Crescio has dedicated time talking with youth groups about the issue of drinking and driving. This background is important to understanding his book.

Dominic and his best friend since childhood, Eddy, are drinking. Dominic is driving – they crash and Eddy is killed.

Eight years later, Dominic is released from serving a term for manslaughter. He takes a bus to Riverdale, his home town. Getting off the bus, he starts walking to his home, but he is weighed down by remorse and fearful of his reception. It starts to rain, and he runs into St. Patrick’s, the Catholic church in which he was an altar boy many years earlier.

As Dominic sits in the church, mulling over his situation, a strong old man – dressed as a priest and carrying a carpenter’s T-square – walks in. Addressing Dominic by name (though Dominic doesn’t remember having met him), he sits down and the two begin to talk. Their conversation is, essentially, the book (it is a short book – 113 pages).

What can one say about this book? The theology is basically sound (one oversight – St. Joseph is referred to as Jesus’ father, rather than foster-father – but there is no theological intention in doing so). God is rightly portrayed as loving and forgiving, and the issue is addressed about how we create barriers to God’s love and forgiveness. The following passage, in which Dominic is realizing that Jesus faced sentencing just as he had, is fairly typical:

“’How can you be so calm?’ Dominic said, almost shouting now as he got up and walked toward the old man. ‘Doesn’t this make you angry? I’ll tell you one thing, I’m steaming mad just thinking about this.’

“‘Are you mad for Jesus, Dominic? Or does this just remind you of what you went through?’

“’Yeah, it makes me mad, but I did something wrong. I was at fault; don’t you understand? I had a reason to be punished; He didn’t.’

“’Yes, that’s true,’ the old man said. ‘You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, Dominic.’

“’He didn’t,’ Dominic said, pointing to the picture [of Jesus] in frustration.

“’Well, now, that isn’t a very fair comparison, do you think?’

“’Well, I guess not. But it still doesn’t change what happened that night. If I had been thinking straight that night, the accident would never have happened.’

“’That’s just it, Dominic,’ the old man said. ‘It was an accident. You never meant for that to happen; I know it, and everyone that you care about does too.”

This facile treatment of problems typifies the book. Drunken driving isn’t just a mistake – an accident – it’s a sin, and it is important to fully realize this in order to fully comprehend God’s love and forgiveness. Even the issue Dominic faces is a light one – it becomes clear that his family has been visiting him in prison and clearly forgiven him years ago – there is no particular reason for him to think he won’t be welcome at home. But no mention is made of Eddy’s family – who might really have reason not to forgive Dominic – and no mention is made of Dominic facing up to them. Everything is too pat, forgiveness is too easy.

Adult readers will almost immediately guess who the old man is. Although they may enjoy the story (Mr. Crescio is not a bad writer), they will find it predictable and lacking in real drama or tension. I found it very hard to be emotionally involved with the characters.

But I have written enough catechetical fiction to realize that adult readers are probably not Mr. Crescio’s intended audience. This strikes me as the kind of book that is meant to be a discussion text for youth groups (Mr. Crescio might include guidelines for discussion of each chapter; they are not included in the book itself).

Despite the lack of action (largely limited to the two talkers sitting in pews and walking around the inside of the church), given the right discussion leader, younger teenagers might find this book a good starting point for discussing not only drunk driving, but God’s love and forgiveness in general.

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Publisher:
ISBN-13: 978-1613463260
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches


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Arthur Powers went to Brazil with the Peace Corps in 1969 and lived most his adult life in that country. From 1985 to 1992, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, organizing rural workers’ unions and subsistence farmer groups in a region of violent land conflicts. Subsequently he directed Catholic Relief Services in Brazil. The Powers currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Powers received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. In 2011, he was a finalist in the Press 53 Short Story Open Awards, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His short stories and poetry have appeared in America, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Christianty & Literature, Dappled Things, Dreams & Visions, Hiram Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Liguorian, Prime Number, Roanoke Review, St. Anthony Messenger, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Texas Quarterly, Windhover, Worcester Review, and many other magazines and anthologies.

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