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The Unspeakable: 04/30/08
The Unspeakable for its theme of the delicate balance between faith and physical affliction reminds me a great deal of Lying Awake by Mark Salzman. Here it is the story of two priests both examining their own faith after a set of extraordinary circumstances bring their faith and calling into question.
Peter Whitmore is sent to investigate his friend and colleague, Jim Marbury when stories of miraculous healing filter back to the Diocese of St. Paul. At the heart of these miracles, is a missing period of time in Jim Marbury's life when he failed to show up at a conference and was later found walking in the cold, miles away from his car and suddenly mute.
Most of the novel is a series of conversations between Whitmore and Marbury, about the time of the accident, their time in the seminary, Whitmore's childhood and current events at Marbury's church. There is enough wiggle room in the story to interpret the novel any number of ways. Marbury may have been giving the ability to heal at the price of his voice or he's faking both or somewhere in between.
My one complaint is the unnecessary time spent with Whitmore's background. As a narrator he is only interesting as a friend of the much quirkier priest. It's unnecessary for him to have his own traumatic past just to make his connection stronger with Marbury. I found Whitmore's flashbacks an unwelcome distraction from an otherwise interesting novel.