Book review: Captivating caper by Jamestown Author
By Sam Coale
Special to The Providence Journal July 24, 2016
“Some People Talk With God,” by John Enright. Yucca. 257 pages. $24.99.
John Enright, who lives in Jamestown, spent 26 years in the South Pacific, created the colorful Jungle Beat Samoan Mystery series, and in “New Jerusalem News,” introduced us to Dominick, “big, balding and overweight,” a self-declared “professional houseguest to rich people,” a connoisseur of travel, cigars and scotch.
Dominick gets himself into the most quirky and quixotic situations. In “Some People Talk With God,” it involves a coven of Wiccans, broken ribs, a Fourth of July battle between the local Christians of Diligence, New York, in the Hudson Valley and the Wiccans, a bar fight, the discovery of old sermons, a large newspaper reporter named Sissy and her father, Vernon, who drives Dominick about when his car’s stolen by a 14-year-old girl who gets it stuck in the mud during a ferocious thunderstorm.
All begins with Dominick’s mother’s death. He’s summoned to her house in Alexandria, Virginia, where he first meets his half-sister Amanda, who remains a kind of dispirited wanderer, and her sharp-eyed, self-possessed business partner and lawyer, Morgan Custis. Amanda and Morgan are living in the Van Houten mansion in Diligence, and Morgan wants to lure Dominick into investing in turning the house into an upscale retreat and spa.
Enright’s style is so delightfully casual and conversational that you might miss the perceptive and penetrating comments he and Dominick make about the cultural collisions and religious rumblings of small-town America. The plot’s like a crazy quilt of unexpected episodes as Dominick is tossed back and forth amid the characters he meets and enjoys. The novel also has one of the funniest sex scenes I’ve ever come across.
This is a deliciously charming caper of a novel, buttressed by Dominick’s adventures and observations, complete with the High Priest Lloyd, blood on the veranda of the Van Houten House, lawsuits, the irascible Denise as the Wiccan leader, possible hauntings, and local history. Enright tackles serious issues, but he’s a deft yarn-spinner and will seduce you at once.
Sam Coale (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches American literature at Wheaton College.