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Memories of Mary: Mary Rakow’s new novel and snippets

December 21, 2015

After The Memory Room, Mary Rakow has written another profound novel. Its title is This Is Why I Came, and this is not Sunday School recollections of Bible stories.

Here are three places where the novelist makes room for Mary, the Mother of Jesus, snippets:





Readers making the worthwhile purchase of this book might want to preview what they’re getting into:


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2016 11:27 am

    I especially liked “The Visitation” snippet. It has more potential for violence, but is otherwise essentially the same interpretation that was suggested to me in my teens by the first irreverent Catholic I’d ever spent much time with (who, thus, was a strong influence on me – thanks Mrs B!). She pointed out the stigma surrounding unwed mothers and teen pregnancy in our society, and recalled the recent practice of teenage girls “going to visit relatives out of town” for 6-9 months so they could have the baby in private and without shaming their parents. In that context, of course Mary left town to stay with an out of town relative. This made more sense to me as a teenager than the traditional interpretation that Mary went to “help” Elizabeth.

  2. January 28, 2016 10:09 pm

    Thank you, once again, J.K. Gayle for this wonderful posting. A friend just forwarded it to me. I learn so much from readers and so appreciate your work here.
    Mary Rakow

  3. January 29, 2016 7:56 am

    In the snippet, there’s much in that second paragraph, beginning with the clear logic “If Joseph….” and including the twin hypothetical negatives of disbelief and willful inaction (“did not believe her [crazy story about the angel] and refused to marry”) that would naturally result in men volunteering to administer the called-for justice of being rid forever of (the blight of the) adulteress, that should make us all shudder. Mary’s action bookends this, this stigma, as we see in the novel. I hope you read all of This Is Why I Came. It is very much a book with this kind of bookending, the “why” of action of a woman. (And the often male logic centered so.)

    Mary Rakow,
    Thank you for The Memory Room and for This Is Why I Came. The latter has me re-reading the former. There is “Mary the Mother of Jesus, Later in Life” without Joseph, without Jesus, “in the absence of things most powerful” also remembering with the protagonist in the memory room: “I am not on Patmos. I am not alone. / I am the lucky one. I am Fortunatus.” (I’m struck, in other words, by what comes after men calling John’s vision the biblical “Revelation.”)

    Your novels are incredibly intelligent, profound and provocative of things within us your readers. We thank you.
    – J. K. Gayle

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