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Friday 17 May 2024

ONE MORE SUNDAY - Book review


John D. MacDonald wrote many standalone novels, besides twenty-one books in his popular Travis McGee series. One More Sunday is one of them. Published in 1984, it concerns the Church of the Eternal Believer – a big fundamentalist business using all the tricks of the religious trade.

Reverend John Tinker Meadows is the leader now; Matthew, the founder, his father, is in the throes of dementia. ‘But the face was like a castle where once a king had lived, a castle proud and impregnable. But the king had left, the pennons were rags, the gates open, moat dry, and an old wind sighed through the empty corridors’ (p56). Alongside John is his sister Mary Margaret, strong and devout.

The New York Times considered the book ‘highly topical and controversial’. John’s sermon at the outset probably justifies that comment: ‘Once upon a time our nation was great. Now we sag into despair. The climate changes, the acid rains fall, the great floods and droughts impoverish millions, taking the savings of those who thought they could be provident in these times. We see all our silent factories, all the stacks without smoke, like monuments to a civilization past. Selfish owners refused to spend for modernization. Selfish unions struck for the highest wages in the world. We see rapist and murderers and armed robbers turned loose after a short exposure to that prison environment which gratifies all their hungers and teaches them new criminal arts. We see an endless tide of blacks and Hispanics entering our green land illegally, taking the bread out of the mouths of those few of us still willing to do hard manual labour’ (P11) – and so on...

Ray Owen is an investment broker taking leave from his work. He is trying to find his missing wife, Lindy, who had been writing an article on the Church of the Eternal Believer for her New York magazine Out Front.

Glinda Lopez works for the Church, using a voice synthesiser, imitating Matthew Meadows, and telephones Church members delinquent in their tithes.

Joe Deets is a computer nerd – and clever. He has programmed the computers to cream off some funds donated to the Church. He is also a sexual predator of young women. ‘There was a beast in a cage in the back of his mind, in the shadows, pacing tirelessly to and fro, showing only the glint of a savage eyeball, the shine of a predator’s fang’ (p43). He was presently indulging himself with Doreen, one of the Church’s ‘Angels’.

The Meadows family lives well, travels first class, and have their own jet planes. All thanks to the generous donations.

Within these pages you’ll find hypocrisy, greed, pathos, anger, murder, redemption and hope.

MacDonald masterfully presents a fairly large cast of characters, all individual, each with their own past and failings, their hopes and dreams.

Not much has changed in the last forty years since this was written.

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