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Short Fiction
The Latest Epistle of Jim
by Roy Shepard

Price: $14.00
192 pages
trade paper
ISBN: 0922811261
LCCN #: 96-035042

A swift, concise novel with a surprising simple structure given its social complexity, The Latest Epistle of Jim is the story of Jack Andrews, a Protestant minister who has spent his career serving a series of small midwestern parishes. Troubled by self-doubt and uncertainty, he learns that he is among the final four candidates for the pastorship of a prestigious university church, a position that promises to renew his energy and self-confidence. As he leaves his office to conduct a funeral, Jack notes that among the unopened letters on his secretary’s desk is the envelope bearing either his acceptance or rejection. During a prolonged trip to the country cemetery, he speculates about the contents of the envelope and reflects on the events that have led him to this decisive moment in his life.

“Shepard's tale turns on a letter the Reverend Jack Andrews, the pastor of a liberal church in a small midwestern town, receives in the morning mail but can't bring himself to open immediately. The letter is from the search committee of a much larger urban church and may contain a job offer. Shepard builds great suspense with this simple device, holding the reader's interest as Jack goes through the rounds of a typical day. Shepard masterfully manages events so that the reader is kept guessing, up to the climax, about the contents of the letter. A fine, absorbing study, modestly rendered but deeply felt.”—Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)

“Shepard, a minister himself, has complete command of [the] milieu … A fine, old-fashioned character study.”—Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)

“Shepard, an ordained minister and published poet, renders Andrews so human, he is instantly recognizable as everyman. Written with abundant wit and sly humor, The Latest Epistle of Jim offers remarkable insight into the internal workings of both the ministry and its servants, while providing a rich story about the true meaning of faith as well.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a poignant and often humorous look at a pastor’s struggles with self-doubt and a crisis of faith.… Shepard’s dry humor and introspective style are reminiscent of Jon Hassler.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune


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