3 out of 4 stars
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A hilarious work of fiction by Rob Wyatt, the author makes its clear from the start what you see is not what you get. As a novice Catholic priest on his first assignment he welcomes us into the world of Catholic clergy or priesthood and the challenges faced. He does this with great humor; it was hard to keep a straight face reading the book.
With the arrival of Frank something is about to change at St. Francis Parish and not even Frank is prepared for it.
From his native Wales to The American airports and finally Florida in USA the young priest is in for the shocks of his life how things sound, work and are given different names from what he has grown up knowing. Chips are Crisps in America and potato chips are ‘fries.’ The culture shock he encounters ranges from food, language, cars to how a diocese is run.
He is a simple man who just wants to be ‘me’ and not rise to the high holy demands and expectations of him. He feels the expectations of him are a big letdown to others including the saints and God and he just wants to be his simple self without that entire pretentious garb.
We walk with the writer through his daily clergy life and discover his weakness for the bottle leading to things ungodly. He is a normal human being with weakness and begs to be understood as just Frank and not the saintly St. Francis of Assis for whom he is named after. This aptly captures the book title.
Together with Martha the assistant at the Parish they work out solution to the grip Gene Charmois has on the Parish and its dependency on him. Gene does not take kindly to the new Parish Priest’s choices and preferences, hatching his downfall but Frank staggers onto victory.
The naïve account by Priest Frank makes good reading of religious writing. And can be enjoyed by both Catholics and non- Catholics.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars as the author showcases in the inside murky world of Catholic Priesthood, for readers interested in the religious. It may however put off non-religious readers where he uses each opening chapter with scripture that highlights the theme of the chapter.
The book title carries with it the double meaning of the Priest’s shortened name from Francis to Frank- how he refers to himself and wants to be introduced. He wants to escape the “holiness’ associated with the old age saintly priest Francis of Assisi. The title ‘Can I be Frank’ adheres to his want of openness and frankness about things, situations and himself. Occasionally he seems to have doubts on the church’s beliefs and doctrine and struggles with certain rituals or church ways.
The story starts with his mother sneaking bacon pie in his suitcase as he leaves for his new St. Francis Parish in Florida in modern day United States of America. He lands in America that turns out a land of contrast for him to what he is used to back at home. Two world views emerge, the language the dressing, the occupations and priorities. What one word means in America is a million opposite in USA. In the example of English for Jug’ turns obscene in USA where it’s referred to as ‘Pitcher.
Plots and Sub Plots:
Excited and presumptuous of his coming priesthood calling the young Frank leaves home eager and ready only to face disappointment of an imaginable magnitude. The early parts make for an easy read and not so serious plot, just comical reading until the plot unfolds pages later.
Frank is the novice priest and main character who metamorphoses into a man of his own vision than lying low as urged by Bill who welcomes whim into the parish “ways.” In a standoff with some of his congregants, he develops thick skin and works with a “gang of three and three quarter” to put his parish in the order as it should be. A return to true gospel and not be enamored in political correctness and administration issues of the Church. In the end he gets his wish, changed into an American Frank or simple Frank, mistakes and all.
The major themes of religion, corruption, immigrants, unemployment, pollution and poverty occupy the book. But they find a resolution when the criminal connectivity is exposed and the arm of the law swings into actions. The small gang of characters comes up with solutions for the myriad of problems caused by one Gene Charmois.
Page 120 Mange instead of Manage
Can I Be Frank?
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