Writin’ on a Prayer

Writin on a Prayer

“Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!” wrote Allen Ginsberg. “Everything is holy!”

In the spirit of those lines, Matthew Vollmer (who has a talent for pulling literature out of unexpected places) has edited an anthology of “everyday evocations” called A Book of Uncommon Prayer.

A Book of Uncommon Prayer

There is a prayer that begins “LORD, thank you / for my doubt you exist and my certainty / I’m being watched by eyes of clouds and eyes / of doorknobs when I dream or masturbate.”

There is a prayer called “For a Teenage Girl Embarking Upon a Week-long Carnival Cruise with Her Parents.”

There is a prayer for gluten, “an important yet humble source of worldwide protein enjoyed for centuries by the peoples of many nations, the great majority of whom didn’t even know it existed until recently.”

And there is a prayer for the unlikely heroes of apocalypse movies: “Thank you, LORD, for the wolves and for their dying, because how else would our lowly lupine expert become The Only Man Who Can Possibly Save The World?”

You won’t know who wrote these prayers unless you flip to the back of the book—in an act of selflessness, the authors are not credited alongside their work. (In another act of selflessness, proceeds from the book benefit 826 Valencia.) So you can imagine which prayers are by Stanley Crawford, Amy Fusselman, Leslie Jamison, Catherine Lacey, J. Robert Lennon, Courney Maum, Rick Moody, Amber Sparks, and the other 60 writers, or you can imagine them springing from our collective hearts, authorless and fully formed.

As it turns out, you can pray for almost anything. But you couldn’t pray for a more inspiring book.

Brian Hurley is Books Editor at The Rumpus and an editor at Fiction Advocate.

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