SYNOPSIS:In this humorous coming-of-age story, Bridget Flagherty, a student at St. Michael’s Catholic school outside Boston in the 60s and 70s, takes refuge in her wacky misunderstandings of Bible Stories and Catholic beliefs to avoid the problems of her Irish/Italian family life. Her musings on sadistic nuns, domestic violence, emerging sexuality, and God the Father’s romantic life will delight readers.
Bridget creates glorious supernatural worlds—with exorcisms, bird relics, Virgin Martyrs, time travel, Biblical plagues, even the ‘holy’ in holy water—to cope with a family where leather handbags and even garlic can cause explosions.
An avid Bible reader who innocently believes everything the nuns tell her, Bridget’s saints, martyrs, and boney Christs become alive and audible within her. While the nuns chide her sinful ‘mathematical pride’ and slow eating habits, God answers her prayers instantly by day, but the devil visits nightly in the dark. Scenes run the gamut from laugh-out-loud Catholic brainwashing of children, to heart-wrenching abuse, to riveting teenage excursions toward sex.
Young Bridget tries to make sense of a world of raging men and domestically subjugated women and carve a future for herself, wrestling with how God and men treat women. Her Italian female relatives—glamorous Santa Anna, black-and-blue Aunt Maria, sophisticated Eleanor with a New York ‘Fellini pageboy’—offer sensual alternatives to the repression of her immediate family. She prays fervently that “despite God’s bizarre treatment of married women... some [girls] might still discover ways to have a great time without being a nun.”
Dodging Satan is the flip-side of l'Histoire d'une Âme by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux authored by a twentieth century American girl chomping on a blue-gum cigar while she talks to a confidant about God and sex.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathleen Zamboni McCormick is a writer who lives in Purchase, New York with her husband and their demanding cat. She is the mother of one boy, step-mother of two, and loves all her guys whose roles in the arts deeply inspire her. She grew up in Cambridge, MA, in a tense Irish/Italian Catholic family whose contradictions were both hilarious (in retrospect) and frightening and were raw material for Dodging Satan.
Dodging Satan has most recently won an award as an International Book Awards Finalist (2018).
It's also won Gold in Humor from Foreword Reviews, and a bronze medal in the 2017 Illumination Book Awards in the category of Catholic books. Kathy is quite thrilled since Pope Francis won the gold medal! The book won two 2016 EVVY Awards from the International Colorado Independent Publishers Association: a gold medal in Religion & Spirituality and a silver medal in Humor. Most recently, Dodging Satan won a Bronze Medal in Humor from ELit Awards, and has just been selected as a Foreword Review finalist in the categories of Humor and Religion. It was long listed for the 2016 Book Viral Millennium Book Awards and a Runner up for Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book.
The book has been in the top 10 of its Kindle category in July and December of 2016.
Reviewers are finding Dodging Satan to be both humorous and poignant. Josephine Hendin (Heart Breakers: Women and Violence in Contemporary Culture and Literature) says that Dodging Satan "outdoes Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood in its wit, intelligence and irresistible mixture of realism and charm. It is simply a joy to read." Edvige Giunta (Writing with an Accent and co-editor of Personal Effects) writes: "There's magic in this world--and while we are charmed by its glow, we are also repeatedly unsettled by the darkness behind that glow. We follow Bridget with trepidation, captivated by her vulnerability and her fierceness." Michael P. Carroll (Catholic Cults and Devotions and many other studies of popular Catholicism) comments that "this playful but gripping coming of age tale draws upon a mishmash of Catholic popular culture to create outrageous narratives that helps the narrator to make sense of it all (God the Father pissed off at married women because Eve chose Adam over Him? Priceless!) Women who didn't have access to the Catholic Imagination while growing up will be jealous."
Kathy's a professor of Literature at SUNY Purchase, and says that "writing and teaching writing are deep rhythms in my life. I am in awe at how writing enables my students, and me, to grow, to make sense of the paths we have chosen, will choose, or those we just find ourselves on." Kathy loves the revision process--whether she's revising her own work or helping her students embrace the process themselves. "I have always loved to write, but had expected my work to be confined to the academic," despite the fact that for years, friends and family had admired her story-telling abilities.
But her move to Purchase College in 2000 took her in a new direction. "Purchase College's unique arts-saturated atmosphere changed my life," she states, "and encouraged me to creatively explore my Irish-Italian Catholic childhood" which rapidly became the subject of over twenty personal essays and stories. "Part of the real thrill of writing," she smiles, "whether it's creative or academic--is that you can never predict exactly where your characters, or your argument, will end up. Of course you plan, but in the process of writing, everything gets a lot more interesting than you imagined....Writing is what Lou Reed calls the 'beginning of a great adventure.'"
In addition to her writing and teaching, she loves going to the theater, frequently spends time England and the other Cambridge and is interested in all things British from Shakespeare to the Guardian to the Cambridge Evening News to her favorite contemporary writer, Ali Smith, who also lives in Cambridge. She finds pleasure in arts & crafts, sewing, knitting, crewel work, and embroidery. She claims that "if I weren't a writer and an academic, I'd have become a weaver. The pleasure I take in fabrics is something that certainly comes through in Dodging Satan. The weaver in me I hope is also evident in the ways in which I write digressively and then work every detail back into the main fabric of the story."
Please contact Kathy on her webpage KathleenZMcCormick.com if you are interested in having her do a reading at your school or be part of a bookclub discussion.
MY REVIEW:Dodging Satan by Kathleen McCormick
Starts out with praise for the book, table of contents and then the story begins.
Story of a girl growing up Catholic and she's got roots from Italy and Ireland. I remember the cards she spoke of as I also collected them when given to me from the nuns that were teaching us from K through grade 7.
The girl grows up thinking Satan is under her bed and she gets her mom to sprinkle things around to scare them off.
She really has a philosophic opinions about the virgin Mother of Jesus and the nuns don't like how she portrays her. I myself thought she's really obsessed about her, her clothing, her paintings done elsewhere and how she'd never be able to spank Jesus.
Some of the scenes I found funny and some remind me of things that either we did as kids or the cousins did.
Acknowledgments and why the author wrote the book.
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.