May is Mary’s Month
I admire the work of the late Irish-Canadian-American novelist, Brian [bree-Ahn] Moore. Three of his books in particular: Catholics (1972); Cold Heaven (1983); and Black Robe(1985 – and made into a film worth watching). His novels are concise: Catholics, the story of an American Jesuit sent to an Irish island monastery with the aim of shutting down the monks’ practice of the Latin Mass, is only 108 pages, whereas Black Robe, about Jesuits in 17th-century Canada, is more than twice as long, yet still short compared to most contemporary fiction. And I have a story to tell about Cold Heaven.
One day in 1983, a colleague came into my office to ask if I knew Moore’s work. I did. She asked if I would read the manuscript of Cold Heaven. I said yes.
A few days later in our weekly editorial meeting, I was asked for my opinion of Moore’s story, which is the tale of a lapsed-Catholic woman who receives a visitation from Our Lady – and rejects it.
“I like it,” I said, “so far. But I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve read the rest of it.”
Two others who’d read it laughed, and the woman who’d given me the manuscript, said: “I’m afraid that’s all there is, Brad.”
Moore could be concise to the point of abrupt.