RARA-AVIS: Willeford's The Black Mass of Brother Springer

From: michaelschong@canada.com
Date: 31 Jan 2001


Springer, an accountant, writes and sells a novel. He quits his job to become a full-time writer and finds he cannot sell another word. Through the classifieds, he finds a monastery for sale which he thinks might make for a good story. After travelling there, he finds a lone retired sergeant who has wandered in himself and took control. The monastery it seems was an experiment in race relations with the purpose of training the clergy for a African American fundamentalist denomination. Springer becomes a man of the cloth with his own African American congregation. His writer ability allows him to craft moving sermons. His organizational skills help him arrange a segregation boycott. Springer's lust causes him to seduce and run off with his deacon's young wife. Throughout the story, Springer seems less a man of God than a man of necessity. His faith seemed non existent.

In the end, Springer buys a Brooks Brother suit and throws away his preacher outfit into a trashcan on Madison Avenue.

How do you think Willeford felt about organized religion?


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