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

4.4 out of 5 stars 53 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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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a Catholic school student in the 50's and 60's I thought that I would connect with this book but it just didn't happen. Too much parody and what seemed like cheap humor to me. The only chapter that resonated was the one about poor sister Edna. Also the author never really summed up his Catholic school experience as it affected his adult life. Is he still a practicing Catholic, for instance?
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Format: Hardcover
I met the author in the early 1970's. My high school book club loved his book and we invited him to visit us way out in the boondocks. He came and talked about his 2 books, Chicago, life, and writing. He was very genuine and funny. (John, thanks so much visiting us.) Looks like I have a collector's item now. He turned the book into a play (a musical as I recall) sometime in the late 70's to early 80's.
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By jlove on January 22, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you grew up in a Catholic environment in the 1950s this book will give you a chance to relive your early childhood. At times it seems that you were in the same class and church as the author. I read the book probably 40 years ago, loved it then, love it now.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THIS IS A WONDERFUL BOOK A TRUE CLASSIC. I LAUGHED MYSELF SILLY OVER IT. JOHN POWERS IS A MASTER WRITTER AND HE IS HILARIOUS. CAN'T WAIT TO READ MORE OF HIS BOOKS. KEEP THEM COMING JOHN, THEY'RE GREAT I LOVED IT. BUY YOU'LL LOVE IT.
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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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