Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Today, Drunks & Monks garnered its 44th review

Drunks and Monks was published on the auspicious day of Tuesday, July 7th, and today September 30th, feast of St Jerome, it garnered a total of 44 reviews. Here are a few tasters.   

Scott Woltze
Scott Woltze, an early and enthusiastic reader has been spreading the word about Drunks and Monks in various places around the internet with apostolic zeal. Scott's review got to the heart of Drunks and Monks:

"Like the other reviewers, I couldn't put this book down. It's a raw and honest book that lays bare the confused and brittle life away from Christ, and the little workings of grace that lead to conversion...The mystery of God's grace and timing is evident as he slowly moves toward conversion while many around him unwittingly seem to sabotage the Lord's work. Demons seemed to be aware of the workings of grace, and took an unusual interest in trying to prevent his conversion...On a personal level, I could relate to his loss of faith (and that of nearly all his peers) after growing up Catholic in the 70s-80s, and his subsequent materialistic, secular creed. I could also relate to his wonderful discovery of the old Latin Mass. Since I'm writing my own book-length conversion story..."

On the contrary, one reviewer, TCannon felt that too much of the book was dedicated to the author's life before finding Christ, "I would recommend this book. It was pretty intense--so much time was spent on the super dark life prior to Christ (over half the book) and that was emotionally draining. I almost gave up the read because I was losing hope with/for the author. But it was still a valuable conversion story, as are all, and displays the power and grace in Christ."

Drunks and Monks may take a warts and all look at life which excludes Christ, but many of the reviewers are able to see mirror images of themselves in the former parts. Testament to the way so few enter by the narrow door, fewer people identify with the latter parts of the memoir that is devoted to being a Catholic convert.  It's not surprising that the review voted the most helpful states: "After reading this book, I can say that it has brought questions to my mind about my own spiritual and sober state. This is a must read for people who are on the fence about their sobriety."

One reader echoed Jennifer Fulwiler, "Drunks and Monks is the spiritual autobiography of a 21st century Thomas Merton."

Thursday, 24 September 2015

John Carmichael's Drunks & Monks, a look behind the scenes

I got to know John Carmichael in April 2014.  He got in touch with me via the comments section here and here after he saw me presenting the pilot episode of the show Extraordinary Faith on EWTN which was set in John’s parish church of Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. John was eager to learn all about my experience as a TV producer – he was the first person that I ever met who truly ‘gets’ the joys and pains of making television.

John Carmichael 
I was fascinated to learn that John is an agile legal eagle whose wings swooped high and low around Hollywood for many years when he represented a number of celebrity clients and handled big cases for film studios and record companies. As he says in the opening of his masterpiece, Drunks and Monks, ‘litigation is blood sport in Hollywood…I’ve seen more of what goes on backstage than I ever wanted.’

After he got to know me a little he told me he was working on a memoir that chronicled his conversion from being an unbelieving cultural Catholic to being a devout, repentant Catholic striving to follow in the footsteps of the saints. He asked me if I would like to read it – he had shared the draft with no one else – and I felt honoured to be asked.  I was quite confident that John was writing a great book. I think that the multitude of emails John has sent me over the past year could be compiled and would make a best-seller. But I didn’t open the file with the opening chapters for some time. 

The truth is that I was scared.

John warned me that there would be a minor exorcism along the way.  I am that same girl who stayed up all night after reading Fr. Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil.  My first conversations with John had concerned such cheery topics as demonic possession and exorcism, the thinly veiled hatred that Satanists have for sincere Catholics and how Padre Pio was physically beaten up by the devil.  When I was doing pro-life work in the South Bronx, I met very poor people who would spend their few dollars going to devil worshippers to get ‘favours’.  The raging battle for our souls is not something that is academic and abstract for me – oft times I’ve been burned by the sparks from the clashing swords.

I told John that I would read it when I was sure that I would sleep after reading the opening chapters. So, last winter, on a very frosty evening in central London, I resolved that I could read Drunks and Monks, because a friend and I were going for a hot toddy which I knew would send me to sleep, even if I found the memoir so nerve-shredding that it would render me unable to close my eyes. I only drink whisky a few times a year; those of you who know me well know that I much prefer gin. So, before going for the honey, lemon and scotch drink, I opened the first chapter of Drunks and Monks…


I never thought that I would be the first reader of what I consider to be one of the best books ever written.  Not long after, John invited me to be the editor, and to make suggestions.  If I do nothing else noteworthy in my life, I can say I’ve edited the book that Jennifer Fulwiler called, ‘our generation’s Seven Storey Mountain’.  Jennifer is one bright lady and she invited John onto her show, which you may listen to. John is interviewed at the 43:33mark.  
Thank you, Jennifer for generously inviting all your listeners to buy the book.

Find out if you agree with Awkward Tertle, a young woman who blogged that Drunks and Monks is written in an ‘intoxicatingly beautiful way’ and that John is ‘a modern day Augustine’.

Drunks and Monks

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