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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Ordination consists of a collection of eight short stories and an introductory essay that situates the author and his work in contexts biographical, historical, and critical. The title piece begins, "If my mother were to tell the story . . ." and the stories that follow proceed to explore the gap between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we have lived. These are men and boys who like to see themselves as worthy of the titles of father, son, husband, lover, and friend, but who must fight their own instincts and desires to claim such honors. These are boys and men for whom questions of identity - biological, cultural, sexual, religious, moral - are unavoidable, men and boys always seeking to be who they want to be, always aware of who they are. The introductory essay, "Tulle of Satin," recounts the author's return to his small Michigan hometown to promote his book and to read on the public library lawn on the 4th of July. It explores the tension between identities ascribed and identities achieved, especially in the context of religion generally, a fundamentalist Baptist parsonage specifically, and situates the author's own conflict with questions of faith and doubt, art and belief, dogma and loyalty, between critical objectivity and a deeply ingrained subjectivity.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.