Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family

In 1962, when Vatican II was corrupting the Catholic Church by trying to make it "a warm and fuzzy place," writes Veronica Chater, her father became convinced that the movement would incite an apocalypse. He uprooted his wife and eight children from San Jose, California, to a village near Fatima, Portugal. There, he was shocked to find that colloquial prayers had replaced the Latin Mass. A year later, defeated and broke, the family returned to California to join an underground counterrevolutionary movement. Written in the present tense, Chater's memoir possesses the raw energy of a kid; it's like watching the action unfold from beneath a dining room table. Chater grew increasingly skeptical about her parents' devotion to traditionalism, which inspired them to set up temporary churches in a string of department stores and truck garages. Left to figure out her own path, Chater had never been taught how to behave beyond just not sinning, and she stumbled. After dropping out of high school to work at McDonald's, she spent all of her money buying a parrot, which escaped, whereupon she tried to rescue the bird from a treetop. Falling fifty feet through the air, she was overcome with the knowledge that "God was good," as close as she comes to illuminating her own faith. The story of how she untangled herself to land on her feet ends abruptly, although the conclusion is beside the point; as with all wild coming-of-age journeys, getting there is all the fun.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."