Archive for September, 2019

Seeing Far Things Close UP???

Posted: September 9, 2019 in World On The Edge


“In the novelist’s case, prophecy is a matter of seeing near things with their extensions of meaning and thus of seeing far things close up. The prophet is a realist of distances, and it is this kind of realism that you find in the best modern instances of the grotesque. Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” Flannery O’Connor

What are the “far things” O’Connor is talking about?—the connection between close-up realism on Earth and a higher spiritual Truth. God and our relationship with Him, however weak or strong or strange; this is what O’Connor writes about. This is what I’ve striven to write about, too, in my eight published books, two of which are Independent Press Award Winners in Religion Fiction for 2018, and again in 2019.

To show God’s presence in the world, a writer who wants to bring far things close up often uses the strange or the outlandish. Flannery O’Connor called it the ‘grotesque.’ She was an author who wrote fifty years ago, when not only the South, but most other areas recognized the outlandish as just that.

Today, the rules concerning what is strange have changed. Oddity has become almost normal. Yet God hasn’t changed. He is just as apparent in our world, maybe even more so. And to present Him in fiction, a writer cannot use quietly sentimental fluff to show His action through people. Because God’s action– His grace–coming to fruition in people who want to be restored is sometimes harsh. A writer concerned with presenting the chance of salvation has to come to grips with this noisy, often nasty and distracted world.

Many of us yearn for a chance of restoration. And most readers have a desire for some redemptive act in a novel or story that offers the chance of restoration as well. We long for that moment of grace that will turn us, or better us, or lift us up to higher place in the eyes of those we love. Yet we often forget that the price of restoration sometimes takes the grotesqueness of a Crucifixion.

From a distance, I watch the red veil of silt cover the box they bury. He is so far away from me now. If I could go back to the night of his death, I’d cut out my tongue before I could say what I said to him. I did not mean those words. I loved Peck. Always. And I always will.–from my latest novel, “The Distance Between High and Low.”

A Finalist in The William Faulkner/William Wisdom Competition, and Finalist for The Tuscany Prize for Fiction, The Distance Between High and Low is a Southern Gothic novel about the consequences for two young people who set out to learn the identity of their father. Teenaged twins, Lizzie and Peck live in the house of their eccentric, widowed grandmother Pearl–a house of history and secrets– along with their unstable, drug-addicted, artist mother, Lila, and Izear, a half-Cherokee Indian devoted to Pearl who took him into her house many years before. Often with dark humor, the story focuses on the strivings of complex characters in the fictional town of Highlow, Alabama from the 1960’s into the 1980’s.

PRAISE for The Distance Between High and Low:

With masterful control and skillful writing, Kaye Park Hinckley boldly explores a wide range of wounded souls, ultimately finding love in the unlovable, and grace in the sufferings of a complex world. –Cassandra King Conroy, Tell Me A Story: My Life with Pat Conroy (coming in October)

Once again, Kaye Park Hinckley has written a truly Southern novel, deeply rooted in a small town yet universal in appeal. Strongly wrought characters wrestle with half-understood desires, half-articulated questions, half-intended sins – with emptiness and fulfillment, love and anger, sanity and absurdity. All in all, this is a wonderful book that struggles with the imperfections of our human condition. — Arthur Powers,The Book of Jotham (2012 Tuscany Novella Prize), A Hero for the People (2014 Catholic Arts & Letters Award)

EXCERPT:

We all got our customized cravings, our particular drugs you might say; habits, traditions, our routine ways of coping. Even Pearl has strong inclinations. Take her Fine China, restored with Super Glue to keep up her Highlow family, yet Pearl was powerless to fix the genuine break in her grandson’s heart. I like to think it’s fixed now. I like to think that Sister Perpetua flew down from heaven, took Peck back up with her, and told him what she once told me, “You may not know it, little fellow, but Jesus loves you. Oh yes, He does!” Then I think about my own Fine China, that drug I used to crave. Lila thinks I killed her son, but the thing that took Peck was the simple narcotic need for a father. It was his own customized craving that killed him. Not me. No, not me.
— Hobart McSwain, The Distance Between High and Low