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The Last Catholic in America (Loyola Classics) Paperback – August 1, 2005

49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

First Confession and its terrors. First grade with eighty-four other students and one nun to rule them all.
The agony and the ecstasy of Lent. The Worst Altar Server Ever. Dinah Shore and the Blessed Virgin, haunting your dreams.
This is Eddie Ryan’s world—the intensely Catholic world of Chicago’s Seven Holy Tombs neighborhood and St. Bastion’s parish in the 1950s. In this classic coming-of-age novel, John Powers draws readers into Eddie Ryan’s world with bittersweet humor and deep affection.
 

From the Back Cover

“It is fast-moving and often downright funny.”—New York Times

“He has recaptured childish innocence and presented it with adult enlightenment—plus a touch of cynicism—yet never with irreverence.”
—Book-of-the-Month Club News

First confession and its terrors. Eighty-four first graders in a classroom ruled by just one nun. The agony and the ecstasy of Lent. The dubious honor of being declared the worst altar server ever. Dinah Shore and the Blessed Virgin haunting your dreams. This is Eddie Ryan’s world as he grows up in the intensely Catholic world of South-Side Chicago’s St. Bastion’s parish in the 1950s. In this classic coming-of-age novel, John Powers draws readers into Eddie Ryan’s world with deep affection and bittersweet humor.
 

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Product Details

  • Series: Loyola Classics
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Loyola Classics (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0829421300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0829421309
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jay Young on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
John Powers' novel is a funny and poignant look at growing up Catholic in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It's not so much a novel as a collection of short stories with the same main characters.

His writing is very funny. One of my favorite chapters in here is when Eddie Ryan (the alter ego of the author) goes into a book store looking for a "dirty book." He was given advice on how to look for one by his friend, Felix "The Filth Fiend" Linder. When Eddie finds what he thinks is a good dirty book, he yells out, "I found a dirty book!" Unfortunately, he yelled a little too loud, and the store owner throws him out. I'm not going to give away the ending to this story, but trust me, you'll like it.

One caveat, though. This book is likely to be carried by Catholic bookstores. That's where I bought my copy, actually. And some people who see it at a Catholic bookstore may be expecting a Michael O'Brien type novel. Trust me, it's not. Powers does not care much for the faith in which he was raised, and it shows in his writing. OK, he likes the Catholic faith in a nostalgic sense perhaps, but he obviously no longer believes in the doctrines he was raised in. His exploration of faith is limited to episodes which he sees as examples of the deficiencies of Catholicism.

That said, this is a well-written book, and well-worth reading. Fans of humorous writing will particularly enjoy it. Overall, 4 out of 5.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By jenniferk66 on December 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Last Catholic In America was one of my favorite books growing up. Anyone who's been "raised Catholic" will relate and will be entertained by this book.

I am happy to see this title back in print!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Enjoyed this book immensely. It brought back many memories---the Baltimore Catechism, practicing for First Holy Communion, mission fund raising, etc. I passed it on to others I know who also went to Catholic school, and they all loved it too. For more enjoyment in the same line read Ed Stivender's 2 books "Growing Up Catholic" and "Still Catholic After All These Fears."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I thought I was the only one who found humor in my Catholic upbringing until I read this book! This is a must read for all denominations, but "us" Catholics are the only true ones who can appreciate it! Powers does an excellent job at taking the reader into his world of guilt, and religion.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donna Demick on February 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read "The Last Catholic in America" in the 1980's. From the beginning "Who made You?" I was brought back to my early Catholic school education. The author captured my interest and reopened many memories. I laughed until I cried at many of the antics. Alas I loaned the book several times and lost track of it. Would love another copy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dan the Man Unusual on September 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a bittersweet look back at the narrator's days in Catholic grade school. Many of the hilarious adventures can be related to - the nuns who could chuck a "curve" eraser, the kid going to get a haircut and ending up with a military buzzcut, Felix the "filth fiend" (the kid who collected the porn mags), etc. It brought back a lot of memories of my own days. Like the other posters here, the copy I read is long gone. Please put this back in print!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By prandr@webtv.net on April 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
i had nuns,irish christian bros. & jesuit training.this book touches the funny bone (in retrospect ) of any one who had any of the above as their educator. the author tells it like it really was without bitterness or rancor. "filthy"findor covers his dirty pictures by putting them in a white envelope in his wallet with a note on the envelope which says " george i found these in the geography book you loaned me ". i had a copy & loaned it out.i want another one never to loan it !! bob
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ksmith on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must for all northern Catholics. As children our belief was so strong and the numerous things that we did and wondered about really shaped our adult character. We were blessed to be raised Catholic in a time where caring for the poor, believing in miracles and suffering a bit in church still existed. I still read and study in Latin and enjoy the memories it brings back. This book will open old joys and maybe make you a bit better today.
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