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A View from the Back Pew

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Dear God

by Tim O'Donnell | January 12th, 2011

Dear God,

Certainly, you have noticed in our little corner of your universe here that the public relations spin put on your word over the past few millennia has really gotten out of control.  It is my belief that both You and mankind would benefit greatly from a new image consultant.  May I humbly suggest Tim O’Donnell?  He truly has your best interest at heart.

Thank you, and have a nice eternity.

Respectfully,

Kevin –

How cool is that?  Well, to me, very cool indeed!

A few months ago I began sending out what is known as Review or Advance Reader’s Copies of my first book, A View from the Back Pew: God, Religion & Our Personal Quest for Truth. (March 1, 2011) It is important for an author to get feedback on their work but I’d be lying if I said all feedback is the same.  There were a few people who received advance copies of the book that I ardently wanted positive affirmation from.  The writer of this prayer is one such reviewer.  He is an author.  He is a painter. He is a gifted professional musician, a photographer, a world traveler and storyteller without peer.  In short, he is one of the most creative people I’ve ever known.  His feedback on my book was invaluable as it improved the final edition and his endorsement is more rewarding than he could know.  I won’t flatter myself by calling him a peer but to receive praise from an artist of his ilk goes a long way in choking back the trepidation I feel about exposing myself as I do in the pages of A View from the Back Pew.

His name is Kevin O’Donnell.  Although we both grew up in the same small town in northern Illinois, attended the same Catholic grade school and high school and share the same last name, we are not related.  Kevin is four years older than me and he is legend in our hometown as one of the true real artists Mundelein has ever produced.  If a small village – which is all it was when we grew up – can produce a renaissance man, Kevin O’Donnell is the real deal.

Fadó: A Memoir of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness By: Kevin O'Donnell

The day I heard Kevin wrote a book I bought it; it was one of the rare times I’ve finished a book in one session.   I enjoy reading about the Irish and I’m somewhat of a connoisseur of the written memoir.  O’Donnell’s book Fadó.  (Pronounced f’doe, is an Irish expression meaning “long ago” or “in years past”) is part memoir, part historical exposé on Irish immigrants, and part intimate family portrait.

Fadó will remind the memoir enthusiast of Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) in style with a little of the blunt, sheer madness of Running with Scissors (Augusten Burroughs). Brutally honest, heartbreaking and hysterically funny – Fadó is fun, but also at times, tense and emotional.  It takes you on a trek through time from the quaint Irish island of Arranmore to the burgeoning suburbs of Chicago and back again.

O’Donnell is painfully honest about his parents, his brushes with Catholic priests, the Chicago pub scene, the Irish, and his own family foibles. The striking portrait of Mr. John O’Donnell, Kevin’s father is moving and memorable.

Fadó speaks directly to those of us who grew up in an America that was much different than it is today.  O’Donnell is an exacting historian with the flair of a poet.  His storytelling will grab you until the end.  When I finished Fadó, I felt like I’d just spent a few hours in the pub being regaled with stories of a dear friend – you will too.

When I called Kevin out of the blue to ask him to review my book he graciously and enthusiastically agreed to do it.  I was honored to send him the book, but nervous because I knew Kevin would pull no punches in his assessment – this is an Irishman full of the Blarney to be sure, but not a bull-shitter in the least. I knew he’d tell me the truth.

Kevin had to put the book aside for a time as his travels called him abroad but I was thrilled to learn that his wife Colleen read it while he was away.  They agreed not to discuss my book until Kevin had completed his review.  When I got his report I was ecstatic.  They both liked my book and Kevin wrote an in depth review and sort of an editor’s list of things he “liked” along with a sizable list of “not so much”. The things he liked filled my sails with fresh wind and the “not so much” gave me pointers that made the book better than it was when I sent it to him.

He concluded his three-page opinion piece with the prayer at the top of this page.

How cool is that?

To read Kevin’s book, Fadó for yourself go here now:

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