Some People Talk with God review

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 (samcoale@cox.net) teaches American literature at Wheaton College.

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On Cops

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From Some People Talk with God

Dominick found the impulse mystifying. To get up every workday and put on a uniform then go out and enforce. The job had to satisfy some yearning that Dominick lacked—the need to constantly prevail, perhaps, or to have your already poor opinion of your fellow human beings serially seconded by experience. But then he couldn’t understand gamblers either, and for a few that was an addiction. And then there was the attitude, that I’m-right-you’re-wrong assumption behind every interaction, an attitude backed up by the unilateral right to use force to prevail. As an enforcer you relied upon the threat of force, and woe to those who dared raise a hand against you. What was it they were called, back in slavery times? Overseers. Only these overseers were nominally our public servants not our private masters. And with the uniform came a certain arbitrariness in how that threat of force or confinement could be employed. Crooks could make great friends—hell, everybody broke the law—but Dominick had never met a cop he liked. Of course that was unfair, because he had always avoided their company. He could not think of another entire class of people he wanted less to do with.

 

 

Bucket List

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                                     Bucket List

I want to belong to one of those tribes that let anyone in,

on a street where no house looks like any other house

and our furniture is trunks and pillows, borrowed carpets.

Or in a double-wide in an abandoned trailer park where

coyotes and buzzards take turns as our security guards

and when it rains it’s special and you take notice, write it

on a calendar that has no other entries, not even years or dates.

I’d like to hunt wolves with golden eagles in Mongolia.

Simmer for an hour, stirring when you think of it, the house

will smell of shallots and ginger. Ice is such a luxury.

It will be a place where everyone speaks a language that

has never been translated, where I will never understand

what everyone is laughing at and it could not matter less.

Spoon it over memories to make them savory and safe.