KAYE PARK HINCKLEYs fiction has appeared in several literary journals, including Dappled Things. Recently, she was the third-place winner of the 2012 Tuscany Prize for Catholic Fiction Short Story for Moon Dance and an honorable-mention winner for Intensive Care. She is inspired by her Catholic faith, her family, and a deep connection to the Bible Belt South. She lives with her husband in Dothan, Alabama. They have five grown children and nine grandchildren, so far.
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Friends who know me ask how I kept hope of someday finding a publisher during the raising of my five children, along with my commitment to run a business for nearly twenty years. I answer that a woman is by nature creative. Home, family and community are actually springboards to creativity. Aspiration is sparked by her heart, is strengthened her trials, and finds its way into the concrete world through commitment to truth.
My writing is concerned with error and Truth. When Truth is exchanged for lies of the moment, you have a story that begins in the human heart--when hatred replaces love because my new enemy doesn't look or think like me, when anger becomes a fist to the face of a wife, or child, or friend, when a hidden hand steals because what it has is not enough, when every hunger must be satisfied, when my place in the sun is secured by dishonesty. By the standard set in our hearts, these are failings. So, after our failings, what is possible? Contrition, forgiveness, and redemption. My stories contain these themes. They are stories about what it means to be an imperfect person in an imperfect world.
The writer's style is Southern, and more. She is a Catholic, published by a Catholic Press, and I see some of Flannery O'Connor in her novel and its characters. In "Mystery and Manners," O'Connor states: "I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace." There are moments of grace in "A Hunger in the Heart," that will take the reader's breath.
What Mark Childress said about the author's "sensitive ear and keenly developed sympathy for her characters," is true. The characters in "A Hunger in the Heart" are drawn with compassion and hope, and their epiphanies are satisfying. Still, at the end of the book, I sense something is not quite right with Coleman, and wonder how the injuries of his childhood might affect his future years as an adult. Sequel?? I would love one!
This reader was captured by the first chapter of this book. Filled with love, faith and forgiveness, the characters are so intensely intriguing that they feel like they could be a part of your own past or present. The story touches your heart and soul from cover to cover and reminds us, though we are all flawed, we are still loved and held in the hands of God.
I read this book because of the blurbs by two of my favorite Southern writers, Winston Groom and Mark Childress. When I finished it, I could see why they endorsed "A Hunger in the Heart." It's great Southern fiction and more, with its sense of place, strong narrative voices, kinship, sense of empending doom, and a kind of humour indigenous to the South. The story of the Bridgeman family is a poignant one, even heart-breaking at times, and yet edifying because these characters seem like people I know or have known who inevitably 'get through' difficult situations. On a deeper level, "A Hunger in the Heart" is the hunger for love. The book left me with some understanding of how members of any family either contribute to, or relieve, spiritual isolation in another member.
A Hunger in the Heart takes the reader on a rough ride through the emotional mines of a disfunctional Southern family. The author is quite talented in descriptive detail. She really draws a the reader into the story and there are some excellent reflections which make a person want to reread the sentence or the paragraph so as to remember that particular part.
A Hunger in the Heart so beautifully illustrates the yearnings of the soul across all the stages of life. The well-developed and almost familiar characters along with the author's lush and vibrant descriptions make this an incredibly satisfying read. The author really nails the setting and feel of life in the late 1950's in the deep South. This is an example of meaningful writing sprung from experiences of the heart. Tender and compelling, I enjoyed every word.
This is a Southern literary novel, set in 1955 in fictional Gator Town, FL. Coleman Puttman Bridgeman, III is a boy coming to terms with the consequences World War II has had on his family. His shell-shocked father, Putt, a decorated hero, stages continual games of war with his son against an enemy that only the father can see. Sarah Neal, Coleman's religious, but alcoholic, mother blames Putt's misfortune, and her own, on the black soldier whose life her husband heroically saved. When Putt is accused of a scandalous crime, the boy's manipulative grandfather, C.P. Bridgeman, holds Sarah Neal responsible, bringing about a bitter estrangement between mother and son, until the boy must fight his own war against a very real enemy.
But there is a lot of compassion in this book, too. The family's wise gardener, Fig, is beacon for Coleman, almost like the boy's conscience. And Anna, a neighbor girl with problems of her own, understands Coleman's heart, and points him toward forgiveness and redemptive love. In fact, the spiritual thread of God's love runs throughout the story, somewhat like an ever-present shadow always at the heels of the characters, if only they turn to notice it. In addition, the book has some very humorous moments, as well as a few surprises for the reader. It's an entertaining read that stays long in the mind.
"A Hunger in the Heart" by Kaye Park Hinckley grips the reader's heart from the very beginning. It is a poignant narrative of perseverance; the finely drawn characters endure serious difficulties. The individuals cope in their own distinct ways, supporting each other as best they can, even if at times the best is toleration. But they never give up. Coleman watches his father, a decorated war hero, struggle with insanity as his mother succumbs to alcohol. Coleman's grandfather, who isn't in good health himself, does everything he can to hold the family together. The faithful Fig, who has served his grandfather and family since the boy can remember, is always there to help, all the while dishing out words of encouragement and faith. Catholic values and devotions are gently injected throughout the story. At first I resented repeated references to a crucifix hanging around a drunkard's neck until I realized that it's a perfect reminder of Christ's mission. "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17).
I am not very familiar with this genre, but I do know fantastic characterization and a strong story when I see them. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have spent a little more time with some of the characters, a few of whom could inspire separate stories of their own. "A Hunger in the Heart" is a powerful, emotional read. Highly recommended.