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The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show


The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

From Ariel Gore, author of THE ESSENTIAL HIP MAMA and the memoir ATLAS OF THE HUMAN HEART, comes this intriguing and sometimes disturbing debut novel, THE TRAVELING DEATH AND RESURRECTION SHOW.

For seven years, Francis Catherine, aka "Frankka" or "Saint Cat" --- a 28-year-old lapsed Catholic --- has crossed the country in a wildflower-painted caravan of cars as part of The Death & Resurrection Show, in which she is the star attraction. Frankka's curious talent is manifesting the stigmata (the wounds of Christ) on command, something she learned to do as a child when she craved attention and food.

Others in the show include a 300-pound washed-up transvestite, Madre Pia; Mary Magdalena, who performs death-defying aerial acrobatics; Barbaro, a fire-spitter; Saint Paula the bearded; and the Virgin Mary, or Lupe, a fortune teller from Indiana. Together, they entertain the worn-out hippies and jaded residents of small-town America. To the naysayers and religious picketers, Frankka muses, "It's just a show...Isn't Satan up to anything real you can get your panties in a wad about?"

Frankka, who was orphaned young and raised by a neurotic devout Catholic grandmother, is tormented by food fantasies, creeping anxiety, road weariness, and an identity crisis. "Maybe God was really hungover the morning he stumbled out of bed and created me." The manifestation of the stigmata she willed herself to do as a child has grown troublesome. Is this really who she is? "You ever get the feeling that your destiny is way bigger than the life you're living?" Magdelena asks. Frankka is beginning to get that feeling.

Each member of this motley crew has his or her own agenda. Magdalena sees the show as a satire of the church: "Satire is what's bringing those bastards down." Madre Pia is a card-carrying believer who can levitate on command and talks to God. Tony is an unemployed vegetarian street musician who is looking for something to sink his energy into, and the show fills the bill.

Gore has some poetic passages ("The snow fell from a black sky like weightless diamonds..."; "I stretch out and let the sun wrap its tiger paws around me.") She crafts some memorable characters, including a short sketch of an engaging old bourbon-swilling Presbyterian minister who offers Frankka refuge when a media frenzy threatens her life, or Dorothy, a Catholic ex-journalist who lives in harmony with nature and points Frankka toward a "life strategy."

Adept flashbacks from Frankka's childhood lend context to her spiritual journey. Gore's ability to weave the deeper questions about religion, purpose, and her off-beat sense of humor are front and foremost. Interspersed throughout are the short stories Gore writes about the saints (St. Thérèsa of Lisieux was "a hippie chick" before her time) who were Frankka's companions in her lonely childhood. Those unfamiliar with these personages will find her original storytelling style irresistible. A true saint, Frankka learns, is "flawed, scarred, quirky" --- and knows her destiny. "...Don't imagine your past needs to dictate your future," her wise friend Dorothy tells her.

As the daughter of an ex-communicated Catholic priest and a single mom (whose daughter, her author bio points out, was not immaculately conceived), Gore's fictional take on the spiritual journey is a sometimes disturbing, often gritty, nontraditional, thought-provoking read.

The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show
by Ariel Gore

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne
  • ISBN-10: 0060854286
  • ISBN-13: 9780060854287