To the author, Peter Brown:
Thank you so much for composing this fascinating biography. You make Augustine seem more the Man of the Hour than a dusty scholar from the 5th century. The final paragraph of your “Preface to the New Edition” is worth the price of the book in itself.
Highly recommended to everyone on earth. Vale.
This modestly packaged edition (no cover hype, no airy endorsements) contains three compelling works by a great man of letters. “St. Francis of Assisi” seems like a snail shell, winding outward from some mysterious, colorful middle point, slowly rolling in a circuitous route to create a lasting image.
Jeff Fields put a curse on me.
I happened upon his book, A Cry of Angels, many moons ago. Jeff, and his magical, miraculous book, changed my life in the worst way.
Jeff made me want to look at my world as he saw his, full of sun and smoke, laughter and love. Jeff made me want to write, which is one of the worst things to wish upon a person.
You see, his book is up there with Harper Lee and Mark Twain. It gets under your skin. Every time I step in mud, I think of Jeff’s description of “work-stained men in clay-crusted brogans.”
It’s a blessing — and a curse — to breathe in this book and roll along with Earl, Tio, Em Jojohn, Jayell and that feisty Southern Venus named Phaedra Boggs. You want to climb into an inner tube on the river and hold on and never let go.
When you do let go and return to dry land, you feel your life is enriched. The last line of Jeff’s book still pierces my heart.
That’s the way it is with a curse. It sticks with you all your life, and just sometimes you’re a better man for it. I became a writer, and Jeff’s book is always here.
I’m thinking that this curse may be a blessing, after all.