Item description for A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction by Ron Hansen...
Overview Writting in the tradition of Flannery O'Connor and Andre Dubus, the author explores the relationship between faith and fiction, arguing that literature is a powerful medium for experiencing and understanding mystery. Reprint.
Publishers Description In this vivid and deeply felt collection of essays, Ron Hansen talks about his novels, childhood, family, and mentors such as John Gardner. He explores prayer, stigmata, twentieth-century martyrs, and the Eucharist. A profile of his grandfather, a "tough-as-nails, brook-no-guff Colorado rancher," finds a place alongside a wonderfully informative portrait of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. A brilliant reading of a story by Leo Tolstoy follows an appreciation of the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.Surprisingly intimate, A Stay Against Confusion brings together the literary and religious impulses that inform the life of one of our most gifted fiction writers.
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Studio: Harper Perennial
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.13" Width: 5.35" Height: 0.72" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Mar 26, 2002
Publisher Harper Perennial
ISBN 0060956682 ISBN13 9780060956684 UPC 099455014007
Availability 0 units.
More About Ron Hansen
RON HANSEN's several novels include The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Atticus, a finalist for the National Book Award.
Ron Hansen currently resides in the state of California. Ron Hansen was born in 1947.
Reviews - What do customers think about A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction?
Lovely essays May 2, 2006
I have always enjoyed Hansen's books, his unique style. This collection of essays was a treat. As I read each one, I thought it was so remarkable, and then I would read the next essay and like it even more. I especially liked the one about his mentor, John Gardner, the one about Hopkins (does any Margaret not like Hopkins?), the one about Cain, the one about Anima Christi, the one about Tolstoy, the one about Ignatius of Loyola, the one about...oh wait, I am listing the whole book, accidentally. That means I loved every one of these essays. Mr. Hansen not only has the gift of writing, but he also discusses his faith very well. I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in writing, or interested in living the examined life.
Well crafted rather than brilliant Aug 10, 2004
This collection of essays shares no "common thread" although the promise of the subtitle "Essays on Faith and Fiction" is present in a few of the essay while the more accurate "Essays on Faith OR Fiction" applies to the entire collection.
On the "faith" side his meditation on "Anima Christi" is a solid sample of devotional literature. While is is comfortably safe, it encourages creative thinking regarding the meaning of the prayer. It encourages engagement rather than mere repetition.
Also on the "faith" side is his meditation on the Eucharist. While this essay provides amusing, interesting autobiographical information and evokes an earlier (pre-Vatican II) age of American Catholicism, it fails to establish any separate identity - one can read several similar essays by other authors and the essay will simple dissolve into the familiar.
Similarly, historical pieces such as "Hearing the Cry of the Poor: The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador" and "The Pilgrim: Saint Ignatius of Loyola" are competent but non-distictive historical essays.
On the "fiction" side "The Wizard: Remembering John Gardner," "Babette's Feast" and "Affliction and Grace: Religious Experience in the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins" are solid, thought-provoking analyses. But again there is no scream demanding a rereading.
In "The Story of Cain" where Hansen explores the story in Genesis and his relationship with his twin brother, Hansen finally achieves the promise of the subtitle. Life, Holy Scripture and faith are merged into a cohesive whole and the cohesion attracts the reader's attention.
Finally, the three initial essays, "Writing as Sacrament", "Faith and Fiction" and "What Stories Are and Why We Read Them" are solid though undistinctive mediations on faith and fiction. For fans of Hansen, they provide insight into authorial intent/world-view while acknowledging that art, including literature, takes on a life of its own.
Best left Unsaid. Jul 17, 2003
A radio interview with an up and coming singer was broadcast recently and I was listening carefully as the DJ formulated an idea as to the subject matter of a particular song on the debutantes album. After rambling on for a minute or so the DJ asked if his synopsis of the song was correct and turned for approval to the singer who must have smiled while replying "yeah, sure, sounds good to me." The singer resisted the urge, despite the fact that he wrote the song, to impose his meaning on the listeners and thereby rob them of their own interpretation.
Unfortunately Ron Hansen in his latest book didn't have the self control of the young singer and so we have "A Stay Against Confusion", his attempt to reveal the motivation and the meaning behind his books. Doing so has led to an inevitable anti-climax, as though in drawing back the curtain Hansen has revealed, not the source of mystery or imagination, but a bald little man with a projector.
Explaining his own books robs them of their impact, robs the reader of the joy of allowing their imagination to fill in the dots, form their own opinions and be allowed to experience the books through their own frame of reference. Hansen intrudes into our enjoyment with his own intentions and hammers a stake into to the ground as if to say thus far and no further in the meaning of this book. And now in reading them we are like a dog tethered to the stake, snapped back to reality, whenever we are tempted to stray into our own imagination. The stories, like the ones he talks about in the bible ironically enough, lived. They didnt need elucidation, ennunciation or explanantion. Like his novels, they still dont.
Hansen's Looking For Clues Mar 14, 2003
Ron Hansen shows his cards in "A Stay Against Confusion." He reveals himself to be a passionately spiritual writer; this world is not the only one that exists in his fiction. I greatly enjoyed his westerns, "Desperadoes" and "Jesse James", without really getting the underlying archetypal structure in them (Hansen says his treatment of "the dirty little coward" Robert Ford is a consideration of the Judas story.) But in "Marriette in Ecstasy" and the unforgettable historical novel "Hitler's Niece", Hansen wrote about the extremes of good and evil in an unmistakably religious way. But his novels aren't heavy-handed, "faith-promoting" tracts; they are alive and as necessarily ambiguous and multifaceted as the best fiction is.
This collection of essays explores Hansen's thinking about faith and fiction. He is a Catholic of the Vatican II variety, but this isn't an obstacle for people of other traditions to get him. He's a terrific writer. His prose is as sharp and clear as a diamond and he's a gifted storyteller. Indeed, in "What Stories Are And Why We Read Them" he insists that fiction musn't be didactic (as a lot of religious-based fiction is.) You can't beat readers over the head; they have to be carefully led into caring *what happens next.* (This concern over reader accessibility also sets him apart from many contemporary writers.) In "Faith and Fiction" he describes how we use stories in order to figure out the world, to deduce principles that we can live by. A story can be the vehicle for the Holy Spirit to touch our lives; an occasion for grace. In "The Wizard" he remembers the late, rambunctious novelist and critic John Gardner, who was a mentor, and tries to put him into perspective (warts and all.) In "Stigmata", perhaps the most fascinating essay in the book, he looks at what made him write his novel about a stigmatic ("Mariette") and if there are really such holy people in this fallen world. He masterfully explicates Leo Tolstoy's "Master and Man", Gerard Manley Hopkins poetry, and the film based on Isak Dinesen's story "Babette's Feast."
In his book "Hitler's Niece" (about the dictator who was an apostate Catholic who hated Christianity) and his other novels and short stories Hansen creates a fictional world that is quiveringly alive with the possibilities of good and evil. Where eternal destinies and the fate of the world hang on the decisions of individuals. Where free will *matters*. "A Stay Against Confusion" is an excellent introduction to this world.
Almost Great Jun 25, 2001
I bought this book based on its subtitle (Essays on Faith and Fiction) and on my appreciation for Ron Hansen as a faith-filled writer. I expected it to be more about the integration of faith and fiction, and I loved the sections dedicated to that topic. As an author myself, I feel a kinship with Hansen in that I too write fiction from a faith perspective. I felt a little bit cheated by the chapters on Hansen's family members, but moved deeply by the story of the murdered Jesuits in El Salvador. That's why I rate this book "almost great." I don't fault the author but rather my own expectation that it would be something more than it was. All in all, I'm happy to have the book in my library, and much of it is highlighted in yellow.