Saturday, August 31, 2019

Review: Gift of Revelation by Robert Fleming

Here's the blurb:

In this third installment of the Gift series, Reverend Clint and Addie
are finally settling down in Harlem following their Alabama adventure, during which they help black farmers. Addie, a former schoolteacher, loves New York City, with its glittering tourist sites. When she meets Dr. Bentley Gomes, a missionary just back from Africa, she is alarmed to learn of the worsening human rights crisis in Sudan. Addie is intrigued by the need for volunteers to aid those caught in the bloody war in this region. Meanwhile, Reverend Clint encounters African refugees, and their stories of suffering and pain tug at his soul.

Before Reverend Clint realizes what is going on, Addie volunteers to go to Sudan. The pastor follows her on this unforgettable journey of discovery and revelation, into the dangerous region, where they confront famine, violence, and religious persecution. As Addie plunges into this hell, she wants Reverend Clint to make a lasting commitment to her. She wants something solid but wonders if they'll make it out alive. Will the Sudan adventure transform their admiration for each other into fully realized love? Or will Sudan, with its violent extremists, corrupt politicians, heroic doctors, and long-suffering refugees, derail them from intimacy and trust?

  • File Size: 1115 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Urban Christian (March 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: February 24, 2015

  • My Review:

    Christian Books that are written by Black American Christians often deal with subjects that white Christian Americans rarely touch upon.  In addition, many Christian books written about country folk often depict rural America as a kind of pure Eden. In Gift of Hope, Robert Fleming shone his passionate and honest spotlight on racism in southern Christian America. Now the third installment of his series is more concerned with more global issues and often with Africa, the Black diaspora, racial and clan wars, and with inter-tribal, inter-clan African warfare.

    The book is informative, well-researched and searingly honest. Which is a good and a bad thing. Mr Fleming, a well-known journalist and author, wants to put so much of his heart and passions into the novel that the book often comes off like a thinly-veiled journalistic article.  His skills at writing horror are well used here as he writes about the horrors of war in Africa. 

    The main character, Reverend Clint, is a sympathetic character in the way most Christian fiction protagonists are sympathetic. And while the writer does lay it on thick that the main character has suffered, Reverend Clint is shown to be such a holy sufferer that he almost feels like a symbol instead of like a living breathing person. The same can be said for Addie, his love interest, who seems like a manic pixie dream girl wish fulfillment character. I know the character is still recovering from his wife's suicide and her murder of their children but I don't feel the suffering or the recovery. We are told repeatedly that his experience with his now-deceased crazy wife has damaged him, but we rarely see him missing or grieving for his kids. It makes me feel as if the writer didn't mine the personal aspects of the situation portrayed in the story. I found myself wondering if the story would have felt more real to me if the writer had simply made the wife kill herself and not the kids as well. 

    The main thrust of the novel feels less personal and intimate. For the first parts of the novel, the main characters are hearing a lot about Sudan and the hearts of the main characters seem somehow distanced from the reader even though the author keeps telling us about their hearts. Fleming's depiction of the violence and the disturbing images the protagonist sees feels realistic, but the depiction of the hero's suffering feels unrealistic here in the third installment as it did in the first two books of the series. There are moments when characters will suddenly start discussing religion, race, religious wars, and journalism that feel wedged in. I've read several of his novels and he truly is a good writer but his transition to Christian novel writing is still ongoing.

    Christian fiction is stagnant in many ways and Fleming is taking it into new territories. Having read his excellent serial killer novel, Havoc After Dark,and knowing the skill of his horror collection Evil Never Sleeps I would like to see him tackle a Christian urban horror novel. Fleming has changed Christian fiction by giving us realistic books about racism and war and I believe he is that author who is able to merge his horror talents with Christian fiction.

    Three out of five stars. Recommended for church groups that may want to discuss African warfare.

    Robert Fleming Bio:


    Robert Fleming, a freelance journalist and reviewer, formerly worked as an award-winning reporter for the New York Daily News, earning several honors including a New York Press Club award and a Revson Fellowship. His articles have appeared in publications including Essence, Black Enterprise, U.S. News & World Report, Omni, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and The New York Times. His non-fiction books include Rescuing A Neighborhood: The Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps, The Success of Caroline Jones, Inc., The Wisdom of the Elders, The African American Writer’s Handbook, Free Jazz, Rasta, Babylon, Jamming: The Music and Culture of Roots Reggae. His fiction titles include Fever in The Blood, Havoc After Dark, Gift of Faith, Gift of Truth, and Gift of Revelation. He edited the popular anthologies After Hours and Intimacy. He has taught journalism, literacy, and film writing at Columbia University, Marist College, City University of New York, and The New School.

    Saturday, April 20, 2019

    The Scarred King by Rose Foreman

    "From the moment he could walk, Bowmark has trained for a fight to the death. The Disc awaits him: a giant bronze platform suspended over a river of lava. He dreads the day of proving—when he must kill or be killed—to claim the throne.

    His people have hidden from the rest of the world for generations. But when the discovery of a mysterious Atlas reveals forgotten lands and peoples, Bowmark begins to question his culture's traditions and laws. His unavoidable future seems grim and pointless when contrasted with another world full of unique civilizations populated with other intelligent species and marvelous creatures.

    Meanwhile new threats arise from the depths, hidden enemies emerge from within, and soon everything and everyone Bowmark knows and loves will be changed forever.

    Torn between a desire to fulfill his duty, and his empathy for others, Bowmark must use all his intelligence and courage to navigate an uncertain future."

    I read some of this book in beta. I really like it. Soon to be up at amazon. Here is her page.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2018


    Every day I grow a little more "old."
    I become what "old" should be.
    I fall into the dictate.

    This is a choice
    Perhaps even a concession
    Perhaps a conviction.

    The choice, concession, conviction
    is freeing
    It hides me away.

    Me who had youthful lusts
    Me who had ambitions
    Me, I, who had hoped for love and fame.

    I can escape now into old age
    and succumb to contentment.

    I was one who, as Hopkins states,
    was marked when young
    marked by death
    marked for pain
    And even in my youth I was never young.

    That is what bothers me
    I am to become old, having never been young.
    I am to slump toward death, having never lived.

    I was lovely once
    But only for an instant.
    I grew fat.
    Loving eyes poured upon me once
    But the wrong soul peered out at me.
    I have felt joy some three or four times.
    Mine has been an embattled life
    And I fought valiantly, though badly.

    Since youth
    death and holiness were poured upon me
    Against death, I fought.
    For holiness, I fought.
    When young.
    But now...old age has come.

    Friday, November 16, 2018

    Wavering seas

    You were always like that
    Like fire and water.

    They say the two do not mix.
    But with you, they did.

    Alternately passionate, burning everything before you
    Then dousing it all, dousing us all
    with waves of grief.

    Your red hair too
    curling around your face
    like flaming waves
    that the wind could not hold
    like a fiery halo
    surrounding a passionate angel's face

    Wednesday, November 07, 2018

    Poem: Candlesticks

    My mother-in-law gave these to me on the day I got married.
    Along with a conch shell, and something else i don't remember.
    They were made of bronze, she said.
    Had been in the family for years.

    I imagined those candlesticks in their ancient setting
    An embroidered or lacy white tablecloth flowing over a large rectangular table 
    and the table itself laden with food to feast on.
    Turkey, ham, lamb on the like.

    For, in my imagination, the mood had to be festal.
    Bronze candlesticks were not for everyday usage.
    Only holidays, marriages, births, would call them forth.

    Of all her gifts on that day
    I preferred the conch shell most.
    Unlike the candlesticks, it did not speak of my husband's heritage
    It did not call me to be what my mother-in-law wanted me to be.

    It called me to nature
    to the sea
    Looking at the candlesticks, 
    I held my ears  to the roaring within the shell
    and listened.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2018

    Poetry: On inheriting my aunt's house in Jamaica

    This was my aunt's
    This house
    These gardens
    These mango trees
    In this yard
    she walked, cooked, raised hell.
    It was in that room there
    that she argued with a ghost deep into the night
    when he came and stood by our bed.
    In our family
    only ancestral ghost were allowed.

    This was my aunt's
    these apartments
    this tenement

    And there, there,
    was where she cooked the corn meal porridge
    she tried to feed me.

    She was fierce about this place.
    Hers! Hers! Hers!
    Even on her deathbed, 
    she railed against giving it up
    Against giving life up.
    Although her life was nothing much then
    Only ravings, and jealousies, and ownership, and greed.
    No, i do not think i want this house.
    Not its lime trees
    its luscious mangoes
    its gardens filled with hummingbirds and hibiscus.

    Wouldn't she begrudge even the smallest mango i place on my lips?
    Wouldn't her ghost continually roam it?
    And i have neither the spirit nor the stamina
    To argue long into the night with an angry ghost.

    Friday, October 12, 2018

    Poem: Looking at my novel "The Constant Tower" which few have read

    With conviction, hope, and endurance, i crafted this
    I spun it from my heart
    yes, and from illness too
    And all my hope was intricately woven within it.

    That is the way it is with most art
    whether book or painting, music or dance.
    For time, times, time and a half, we pour out our souls.
    And, finished, we set it adrift
    (without money or power, we can do little else)
    We imagine a favorable wind 
    or some kind wave
    or a groundswell will toss our making into the world's heart
    Now, finished -- finished seven years now and writing newer stories--
    I am tired and sick at heart at the praises my famous friends receive.
    My teeth and jaws ache when I see 
    their lists and posts of acclamation.
    I am not as kindly or as saintly as I should be
    The happiness of the famous and acknowledged
    is too great a burden for my unwhole and petty heart to bear.

    My dear sweet perfect little book
    you who contain so much of my heart,
    although my fame and wholeness rested on you.

    I did love you for yourself
     --for you are a thing of Beauty, and all who have seen you have praised you--
    I grieve for you continually.

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