Undercover: 'How Blasphemy Sounds to God'

The story follows 12-year-old Corey Gillis from his mother’s idiosyncratic home-schooling experiment to the end of the Summer of Love ’60s.



Ever wonder what the beloved television dramedy “The Wonder Years” would have been with cult film director Lars von Trier at the helm? Check out Gary Fincke’s intense, challenging new novel, “How Blasphemy Sounds to God.”

Fincke shares von Trier’s explicit, unsentimental vision. In what ostensibly is a coming-of-age story set in the tumultuous 1960s, Fincke tears away the typical wash of sepia-toned nostalgia associated with such novels.

The story follows 12-year-old Corey Gillis from his mother’s idiosyncratic home-schooling experiment in post-McCarthy America to the end of the Summer of Love ’60s and Corey’s endeavor to stay safely free of serving in Vietnam.

A boilerplate story about this era usually would wallow in the notions of innocence lost and wisdom gained, but Fincke is after something else here. Corey’s life is besieged by turmoil. His parents’ marriage is more an accepted reality than a loving relationship. His friendships all have weird edges to them. His ties to school and church, two bedrock socializing institutions, are perfunctory at best. His mother’s attempt to home-school results in Corey’s learning a lot of trivia without much context; also it serves to create detachment in his dealings with kids his own age. His father is pious in word and tries to instill Corey with the proper awe of religion, but he gets caught stealing from their church and disrupts Corey’s connection to the rituals.

Death haunts this novel from all sides. The escalating war in Vietnam is reflected on the home front as family members, friends and neighbors die by disease or their own hands. Part of the tension comes from the way violence erupts so unexpectedly — suicide, rape and murder eat at the center of Corey’s world, weakening the foundation. As a narrator, Corey is affectless and distant, much like a character out of a Paul Bowles story. Like those characters, he also negotiates cold and barren topography. It just so happens that Corey Gillis’ desert is America in the Age of Aquarius.



 

We treasure our three rivers — boating, fishing and watching Zambelli fireworks reflected in the gently lapping water. We paddle in canoes waiting for Andrew McCutchen to smack one out of PNC Park. And we gotta regatta, am I right?

The editors of “Written On Water: Writings About The Allegheny River,” an anthology of poetry and prose, have fashioned a loving ode to our North Shore queen, the Allegheny River. Organized in a rough chronology, these pieces form a natural history of the Allegheny and personal response to life along the banks.

“Written On Water . . .” features writers as disparate as Jerome Rothenberg, Lyn Lifshin, Handsome Lake, Maggie Anderson and others. Each voice is so individual, but together they form a great patchwork by which we come to see the physical breadth of the river and how it has shaped us as a community.

As a bonus, there’s a CD containing recordings of music and poems that really round out this collection of river writing.

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.
10 Things You Might Not Know About The Old Allegheny County Jail

10 Things You Might Not Know About The Old Allegheny County Jail

The former Allegheny County Jail on Second Avenue, Downtown, remains one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic pieces of architecture.
Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

Michael Keaton to Receive Big Hollywood Honor

The recognition comes less than month before the release of Keaton's newest film, which is generating some early Oscar buzz.
Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

Ready for Takeoff: Pittsburgh Airport Hosts First 5K

The course directs runners over taxiways usually reserved for incoming and departing planes.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

After his first taste of big-league ball, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow is ready for his close-up.
Edit Module

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Remembering A Rescuer of Gentle Giants

Richard Kohl devoted most of his adult life to caring for homeless large-breed dogs.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Thyme and Place

A Thyme and Place

Old friends Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves reconnect via Facebook and collaborate on a historical cookbook.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

The local pubs that fly the Sharp Edge banner remain a favorite for top-notch beer and tantalizing grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

The Pirates did just enough in the days before the All-Star break to embrace the second half of the season with anticipation if not expectation.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

Reviews of "Ghostbusters" and "The Infiltrator," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

A Whimsical Wedding in Wonderland

This Pittsburgh bride brought all the details together for a flawless “Alice in Wonderland”-themed wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

The new, larger location in Squirrel Hill features an expanded selection of handcrafted merchandise.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments