Review

The God File

by Frank Turner Hollon



In his second published work of fiction, THE GOD FILE, Frank Turner
Hollon has constructed the poignant observations of an innocent man
serving a life term in prison. Gabriel Black is free of guilt for
the murder of his lover's husband and free of regret at accepting
blame. Yet, his life in prison challenges his sanity and his faith.
To cope with the sorrow, loneliness, and emotional desperation
there, his thoughts turn to God. Black's spiritual search is not
focussed exclusively on religion but instead on the idea of cosmic
justice, the existence of God, and the meaning and purpose of
life.

In a moment of both passion and violence, Black takes the blame and
then ultimately the punishment when his lover, Janie, shoots her
husband. Resigned to spend the rest of his life in prison to
protect her, Black seeks answers to life's large questions in the
prison library. From religion to history, fiction to philosophy,
Black reads everything he can in order to distract himself and to
meet his emotional and spiritual needs. He begins collecting
evidence for the existence of God in his "God File": quotes from
books, prison stories, copies of the letters he has sent to Janie
and the ones he has received from his father. Black's contemplation
also takes him back to his childhood and to memories of his saintly
mother, his alcoholic father, his long-lost brother, and a parade
of friends. His first confession, his first kiss, little league
games, and his pet dog all flood his memory and contribute to his
conclusion that God does exist. His hope, his search alone, Black
claims, is proof of God's existence, as are the small but
meaningful spiritual experiences he has despite (or perhaps because
of) his surroundings. In one such moment, Black finds himself
dropped to his knees in awe and faith when he finds a moment of
silence and peace after a bloody fight breaks out in the
cafeteria.

A quick but nonetheless moving read, THE GOD FILE is a deeply
spiritual novel. It points to a distinguishing feature of humanity,
the need for hope, and how that need, that humanity, is virtually
impossible to extinguish even in the most violent and horrible of
places. Those without hope are those who have lost their humanity.
The convicts Black lives with all illustrate this. Some are angry,
some are crazy, and some are sad but still most hold on to hope. It
is those without it whom Black is cautious of. Yet for all its
hopefulness, the novel can be brutally bleak: for Gabriel Black
hope is the ultimate proof of God's existence, and the ultimate
example of hope is suicide.

Despite his honesty and likeability, readers most likely will not
be attracted to Black nor surprised by his fate. Gabriel Black
seems to be more of a device used by Hollon to explore this topic
and less of a complete character. However, with that in mind it, is
easy to overlook the novel's shortcomings, because as Gabriel Black
understands, it is the exploration and not the conclusion that is
the most essential thing.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 22, 2011

The God File
by Frank Turner Hollon

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1931561443
  • ISBN-13: 9781931561440