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Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul Paperback – May 31, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; First Edition edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972344
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #582,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How I met Father Joe. I was fourteen and having an affair with a married woman. These are the opening lines to the first chapter of this outstanding memoir by former National Lampoon Editor Tony Hendra. How could we resist diving into this deliciously satisfying story about a lifelong mentorship with Dom Joseph Warrilow, a.k.a. Father Joe? After the devout Catholic husband catches the illicit couple in the kitchen, the husband does not attack Hendra. Instead he decides the young boy needs salvation. Amazingly, the husband leads Hendra to the one man who could save his soul: Father Joe. This is a tribute to a spiritual mentor, written in an easygoing, guy-talk style. It is no small feat to be brilliantly funny, ruthlessly honest, and spiritually profound at the same time, but Hendra has the winning combo. For more than 40 years Hendra would return to this mesmerizing old soul to tell him everything---from the details of his first sexual encounter, through questioning the social value of satire, to his crisis in faith after losing two children through miscarriages. But it's not just the North Star wisdom of Father Joe that captivates readers; it is the chance to follow Hendra as he gradually matures into a humble and spiritually solid man who can still crack a wicked good joke. Such a gift. Thank you, Tony Hendra. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

When he was 14, Hendra had an affair with a married woman. One afternoon, her husband, a devout Roman Catholic, discovered the two in each other's arms. The husband, acting more out of concern for Hendra's soul than out of anger, arranged for the teenager to spend several weeks under the tutelage of Father Joe at a Benedictine abbey in England. Expecting cruel treatment similar to that handed out by the monks in his Catholic elementary school, Hendra was surprised to meet instead a rotund, knobby-kneed confessor whose thoughtful, open manner changed Hendra's life forever. As Hendra reveals in this graceful, humorous tale, Father Joe acted not only as a confessor, but also as a friend and as the guiding spirit of Hendra's life (the author is now married with three children). Under the influence of Father Joe, Hendra passionately decided to follow the monastic life. At every turn, he met Father Joe's gentle insistence that he wasn't yet ready to enter the monastery. At Cambridge, Hendra discovered a new passion-comedy-and pursued it as ardently as he'd pursued religion. Hendra writes well (he spent several years as the head writer at National Lampoon), chronicling the failure of his first marriage, his descent into substance abuse, his self-hatred and his incessant search for meaning in compelling prose and with clear-eyed honesty. Throughout Hendra's life, Father Joe stands by his side, like a gentle shepherd leading a lost sheep back to a place where it can graze safely.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Father Joe is the story of author Tony Hendra's faith journey.
Craig L. Howe
In this book, called 'Father Joe', the title character makes far too little of an appearance.
Frank Green
He listened and he didn't judge, he assured that God has boundless love.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Rick Mitchell VINE VOICE on June 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It has taken me a couple days to write this review. There is so much to write about on the one hand, yet it is so simple on the "big picture" side.
First, the writing. It is excellent. At times I just wanted to savor the words and the thoughts, yet Mr. Kendra's writing style kept me moving. That is a wonderful combination, when you want to slow, but the writing contains an innate excitement that keeps your eyes moving.
Next, the "memoir". Mr. Kendra's life is the ancillary aspect of the book. He is the main supporting cast to the Father Joe. Mr. Kendra is brutally honest about himself - one can not help but think that he was a better person than he portrays himself to be.
The book tracks the author's spiritual life starting with an affair with a married woman when he was 14 years old which causes him to meet of Father Joe, with whom he mantains a relationship for the next few decades. After that meeting, the author spends several years planning and plotting to become a Benedictine monk. After finding comedy as a new object of worship, he completely abandons his faith, loses a wife and almost a second before he comes back to the fold.
That rendition gives the book such short shrift. It is filled with thought-provoking ideas about self, faith and relationships without getting sappy or tawdry. Father Joe is his friend, father, mentor and spiritual adviser who stays with him throughout leading him without pressure into self-realization.
If there is one theme of this book, it is not God or religion or even faith. It is the ability of a person to delude himself. Father Joe is instrumental in showing Kendra that lesson.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Along with a gaggle of smart (just ask us!) young men in New York, I worked with Tony Hendra on a number of humor projects two decades ago. Beyond our wit, we all shared one attribute --- in the words of the lone female on the team, "You're all guys who don't want to go home." My reason was prosaic: no girlfriend. Hendra's, it turns out, was more complicated.
Tony Hendra never talked about his background. I assumed that he was, like the rest of us, -in flight from something --- you don't gravitate to comedy because you're happy. But the nub of it was, Hendra had been happy. And for an amazing reason: He had been, at least in his own mind, a teenage monk.
It happened this way: "I was fourteen and having an affair with a married woman." Well, not quite. This English schoolboy was taking religious instruction from an eccentric Catholic named Ben Bootle and spending too much time with Bootle's wife. Lily Bootle was a tortured soul, drawn to the "sins of the flesh" and terrified of them as well. She fell hard for this brilliant student (even if he did crib the math homework from his schoolmate, Stephen Hawking). The difference in their ages? Didn't matter. They began with kissing. His hand moved south. And then her husband walked in.
Ben Bootle's response was not what you would expect: He took Tony on a little trip. Two hours on a train across England, a half hour on a ferry to the Isle of Wight, a short bus ride --- at last they reached a Benedictine monastery called Quarr Abbey and Ben introduced Tony to a big-nosed, floppy-eared, knobby-kneed, grinning monk. Tony knelt at his feet to confess. "No no no no," Father Joseph Warrilow said. "Sit down next to me." He took Tony's hand. "Now, dear, tell me everything."
Tony did.
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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful By mulcahey on October 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It was touch-and-go whether I'd finish FATHER JOE or throw it across the room. I nearly gave it up after the first couple of chapters: Hendra is the sort of writer who'll enlist six sentences to do the work of one, and who can't stop himself from turning all his people into laughable stock types. But so many friends had recommended the book that I persevered.

When Father Joe came on the scene, he did capture my interest. The odd thing is, he doesn't seem to have captured Hendra's. Father Joe remains a question mark throughout, a mystical force of big-eared benignity. The author seems to have no curiosity about who the man is or how he became himself -- in fact, Hendra's shocked to discover, late in the book, that Father Joe had a very full life of wide-ranging interests and relationships. Hendra sounds taken aback to think Father Joe had other reasons to exist than to counsel him.

For me, this persistent narcissistic strain made the book unpleasant and frustrating to read. I don't mean to be unkind, and don't doubt the sincerity behind Hendra's tribute. But Father Joe could have been more interesting than a mere angelic enigma, whereas Hendra himself is not so interesting as he thinks he is.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on July 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Father Joe is the story of author Tony Hendra's faith journey. It is an inspiring, heartfelt story of the four decade relationship between the satirist and a surprisingly wise Benedictine monk named Father Joseph Warrillow.
Hendra, one of the original editors of National Lampoon, captures the beautiful essence of a truly God-inspired man. The portrait that emerges is of one a cleric who is a credit to Church, a cleric who is a credit to his Christ. Father Joe is truly a saint. Hendra, in a startling departure from his normal style, portrays Father Joe's actions as non-judgmental, caring, and engaged.
This is the most powerful book I have read in a long time. If I have one criticism, it is Hendra's prodigious talent occasionally clouds this great story. I would occasionally find myself re-reading a particularly clever or unique descriptive phrase. However, you should properly view those words as the musings of a less talented, envious and jealous writer.
Father Joe is a tribute to one of the most charismatic, selfless, spiritual mentors of our time. At times it is funny; at times it will bring tears to your eyes. Tony Hendra experienced a miracle. I am grateful he shared the story with me. Read the book. You will be grateful he shared it with you.
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