Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: Pope Bob by Bill Dodds

I own both a Kindle and a Nook, and it's very rare that I don't have one or the other with me so that I always have something to read in case I get stuck in a line, or the doctor's running late, or I arrive early for a meeting, etc.

Last month, while I was waiting in an unusually long line at the grocery store, I reached for my Nook - I was in the middle of a great new book and wanted to continue with it - only to discover that I had picked up the Kindle by mistake.  I have distinctly different covers for both, but somehow had mixed them up.  I don't have as many books on this one, but did have a huge group of Amazon's daily "freebies" which I often download just to see if I might be interested.  If I don't like them, I delete them.  The title of this one had obviously grabbed me back in 2012 when I got it, so I decided to take a quick look.

This is a delightful book.  On the surface, it appears to be the story of an American priest who is one of those alcoholics who holds his liquor well and is a charming dinner companion.  As such, he makes his way up the ecclesiastical ladder, finds himself doing duty in Rome, and somehow ends up being chosen as the pope.  Here's where the story gets interesting.  He realizes he's in way over his head, but can't seem to figure out how to retire so he can just hug his bottle and go off into his foggy drunk dreamland.

So, while on a papal trip to Canada, he evades his keepers one morning as he sneaks out in search of a "little something" to clear his seriously hungover brain, goes off on a toot, and never returns.  This could have turned into a tongue-in-cheek satire but instead, the author takes the reader on a serious journey through the hell of recovering alcoholics, shows us a hopeful story about the 12 step program, a serious look at social and religious practices, a slight mystery, and introduces us to some of the most loveable (if disreputable) characters to inhabit the pages of a book in quite a while.  Ultimately it's a story of sin, sorrow, forgiveness, redemption, and conversion.

Although it certainly sings of Catholicism, it paints a clear picture of the church, its clergy and all their warts.  Dodds is a writer who is able to give us real people, who are real sinners, real friends, and who are willing to allow themselves to experience the grace they preach to others. A little gem.

Title: Pope Bob
Author: Bill Dodds
Publisher:Bill Dodds (2010), Amazon Digital Edition, 332 pages
Genre: fiction
Subject: alcoholism, papacy, catholicism
Setting: Washington state
Source: Amazon Kindle daily deal
Why did I read this book now? It was free and I liked the title.


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