Can You See Any­thing Now?

Kather­ine James Par­a­clete Press (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover $16.99 (256pp) 978-1-61261-931-6

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - MEAGAN LOGSDON

Brim­ming with both acu­ity and grace, Can You See Any­thing Now? is a wel­come chal­lenge to the dog­matic con­ven­tions of modern Chris­tian fic­tion.

The un­san­i­tized, trans­gres­sive ten­den­cies and the thought­ful style of Can You See Any­thing Now?, by Kather­ine James, con­struct a much-needed bridge to the in­tel­lec­tual side of re­li­gious fic­tion.

The small town of Trin­ity is home to a host of char­ac­ters, all with their own im­per­fec­tions and foibles that they must over­come. Margie, a painter re­cently di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, fails to kill her­self, but amidst the town’s spec­u­la­tive and judg­men­tal whis­pers, she be­friends Etta, her evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian neigh­bor.

This match is made all the more strange and in­trigu­ing when Margie sees some­thing in Etta’s home­spun paint­ings of toma­toes and con­vinces Etta to learn how to paint hu­man fig­ures. Margie’s daugh­ter, Noel, a Columbia stu­dent, wres­tles both with her drug-ad­dicted and self-harm­ing room­mate, Pixie, and with her at­trac­tion to Owen, a child­hood friend from Trin­ity, in a willthey-won’t-they ro­mance. But when Pixie vis­its Trin­ity over win­ter break and falls un­der the ice of the Wee­keepeemee River, her sub­se­quent coma be­comes a source of much pain and much heal­ing, par­tic­u­larly for her es­tranged fa­ther, Pete.

The novel is bru­tally hon­est in its re­la­tion of these char­ac­ters’ strug­gles. This will­ing­ness to stare into the darker depths of the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence is re­fresh­ing in a novel that also claims Chris­tian trap­pings. Rather than pre­tend cer­tain words, ac­tions, and peo­ple don’t ex­ist, James does not shy away from pep­per­ing her novel with a di­verse cast and their di­verse opin­ions and vo­cab­u­lar­ies.

There is enough light that peeks through to pro­vide some breath­ing space. Etta is the pri­mary provider of this re­lief, as she is por­trayed as kindly in­no­cent rather than judg­men­tally naive. Her in­ter­ac­tions both with Margie and with the more gos­sipy mem­bers of the Trin­ity com­mu­nity pro­vide a por­trait of open-minded in­clu­sion that should be char­ac­ter­is­tic of more Chris­tian lit­er­a­ture.

De­spite its un­var­nished sub­ject mat­ter, the prose pos­sesses mo­ments of lovely lyri­cism. Care­fully cho­sen de­tails cre­ate scenes that are tan­gi­ble in their re­al­ism. Lit­er­ary and pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences alike stim­u­late and po­ten­tially broaden the in­tel­lect. Brim­ming with both acu­ity and grace, Can You

See Any­thing Now? is a wel­come chal­lenge to the dog­matic con­ven­tions of modern Chris­tian fic­tion.

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