I just had the experience of reading a novel written by one of my professors at Vanderbilt University.
Walter Sullivan (1924-2006) introduced me to many of my favorite books, including Brideshead Revisited, The End of the Affair, War in Heaven, and “The Four Quartets” in a class he called “Angelic and Demonic Themes in 20th Century Literature.” We also read The Spire and, I feel certain, some Flannery O’Connor. He was a marvelous teacher who started by teaching the basics of the Bible so that the class had a common language to discuss the modern works. I have often wished I had spent more time working on “The Four Quartets” while I had opportunity to draw on his wisdom.*
It turns out he wrote three novels and last night I read The Long, Long Love [link].**
It is the story of Horatio Adams, a man strangely incapable of accepting what happiness comes his way because of the pain and fear which distracts him.
It is a moving and lyrical book:
“I wondered about that, Horatio. What happened to us? Why did things work out the way they did?”
“Why?” I said. “Nobody ever really knows why. There are a thousand reasons for every turn of every day.” I pondered this a while, knowing it was true. Thinking that not only did God know about the fall of the sparrow, but that only the mind of God could know all the reasons why the sparrow fell.
Recommended (don’t expect any tank battles).
*Thomas Howard’s The Dove Descending (2006) [link] is the best substitute I know of.
**Sullivan had written it about twenty years before I met him. How sad that I did not read it until more than twenty years after he died. It is still in print.