BREN DUBAY

Coming Home to Write

The Secret Lives …

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran

Read if you want to write. I’ll share with you what I’m reading, something that worked for me, something that didn’t. If you read the book, let me know the same for you.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw was one of the five finalists for the 2020 National Book Awards.

Worked — Deesha Philyaw can write. Parts of all nine stories made me uncomfortable. I had to think about that. Discomfort can make you grow. I must have grown a lot by the time I finished this book.

Didn’t work — I live in the South and have a deep respect for the social justice work of the Black church. But any institution is haunted by those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Not much walking the walk in these stories. And a kid sees this and that kid grows up. That kid is haunted. Made me sad to see how.

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