What if the most sacred place on earth was not on a mountaintop, not in a cathedral or mosque, but in a dank dilapidated men’s steam room? That is where a defrocked priest encounters life and death, sex, drugs, and even rock ‘n roll in this spiritual fiction.
The Steam Room Diaries is the story of a place as much as it is the parade of an edgy ensemble of gym characters. Each chapter is a discreet story from the life of the peculiar members of this musty old locker room as well as a few of the strangers that wander through. The reader, like the narrator himself, is a voyeur listening in on remarkably intimate accounts of dramas from ordinary life. We hear stories that include extramarital affairs, mid-life angst, ghosts, strippers, and tragedies ending in death, all of it filled with ironies, surprises, and abundant humor.
While each chapter tells the story of a distinct person, the chapters are strung together by strong narrative themes of human vulnerability and resilience resident in the narrator himself who is the failed priest. The emergent relationships and tensions within and between the characters and narrator also form scaffolding around the episodes. The power of story to evoke emotion and memory in the reader is present in each chapter with its own unique character.
There are only flawed and wounded characters in this book, so they are not chicken soup stories. They are locker room stories for the soul. It is about men and women, more men than women, growing into their woundedness. Even more so, it is about encountering God in the dark. Everyone knows about experiencing God in the light but this novel is a cascading stream of stories of God Noir, the sacred darkness.
The Steam Room Diaries is available to order from Amazon, Tumbleweed Books, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite Indy Bookstore beginning November 1, 2015.
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