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The Loser Letters Paperback – March 1, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Loser Letters draws inevitable comparisons to C.S. Lewis' classic The Screwtape Letters, and rightly so.....a provocative, compelling case [made] with rare grace and conviction."
--Claire Gillen, The Washington Times

"The Loser Letters is an instant classic." --Nancy Piccione, The Catholic Post

"...[C.S.] Lewis now has a rival: The Loser Letters, by Mary Eberstadt.... this is witty and wicked satire." ---Scot McKnight, beliefnet.com

"[T]he engaging author....deftly channels C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters through the voice of a fictional twentysomething survivor of college hookups, detox, and Facebook relationship etiquette."  --Joan Desmond, The Weekly Standard

"Eberstadt brilliantly defends the faith from radical New Atheism with wit and humor....more than a match for Hitchens and Dawkins and their flying spaghetti monster." --Matthew Archbold, National Catholic Register

<span>"The Loser Letters draws inevitable comparisons to C.S. Lewis' classic The Screwtape Letters, and rightly so.....a provocative, compelling case [made] with rare grace and conviction."
</span> --Claire Gillen, The Washington Times<br \><br \><span>"The Loser Letters is an instant classic."</span> --Nancy Piccione, The Catholic Post<br \><br \><span>"...[C.S.] Lewis now has a rival: The Loser Letters, by Mary Eberstadt.... this is witty and wicked satire."</span> ---Scot McKnight, beliefnet.com<br \><br \><span>"[T]he engaging author....deftly channels C.</span><span> </span><span>S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters through the voice of a fictional twentysomething survivor of college hookups, detox, and Facebook relationship etiquette." </span> --Joan Desmond, The Weekly Standard<br \><br \><span>"Eberstadt brilliantly defends the faith from radical New Atheism with wit and humor....more than a match for Hitchens and Dawkins and their flying spaghetti monster." </span> --Matthew Archbold, National Catholic Register<br \><br \>As a Christian humorist, Mary Eberstadt is the rightful heir and assignee of C.S. Lewis, and her heroine in The Loser Letters is the legitimate child (or perhaps grandchild) of "the patient" in The Screwtape Letters. - --P.J. O'Rourke, Author, Parliament of Whores

Mary Eberstadt is one smart cookie. If you don't believe me, ask Satan. --George Weigel

This is a wise, funny, and winning book. --Michael Novak

About the Author

Editor Mary Eberstadt is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Contributing Editor to "Policy Review, " and author of "Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes." She is former managing editor of the "Public Interest" and former executive editor of the "National Interest."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586174312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586174316
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gayle Trotter on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
In an anything-but-apologetic apologia, Mary Eberstadt challenges the many spokesmen (and they are almost all men) for the New Atheism in her satire, The Loser Letters. Reminiscent of Ted Turner's infamous comment that Christianity is a religion for losers, the Loser in this book is God.

The intimidatingly intelligent Eberstadt has established herself as an incisive writer who engages explosive and controversial topics. She critiqued the practice of administering strong drugs to schoolchildren in an effort to promote better school performance in Why Ritalin Rules and extended her treatment of the topic in her book, Home Alone America.

She has exposed the effects of the sexual revolution and has chronicled developments from Anglican acceptance of contraception at the Lambeth Conference in 1930 to the denomination's current warfare over homosexuality. She presents a uniquely perceptive view of pop culture with arresting titles such as Is Food the New Sex? and Eminem Is Right. She makes frequent, and provocative, contributions to the Wall Street Journal, Policy Review, Commentary, and First Things.

The Loser Letters, Eberstadt's first published work of fiction, draws on a long satirical tradition from Juvenal to The Screwtape Letters. Eberstadt's protagonist, a young woman named A. F. Christian (as in, "A Former Christian"), details the journey of her enlightened abandonment of her "cradle Dullness" (namely, her Christian faith) and her adaptation to atheism. Christian writes excited, star-struck letters to the self-described so-called "Brights" of the New Atheism, in which she gushes about the Brights' superiority while candidly evaluating the weaknesses that limit the New Atheism's ability to win new converts.
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If you're already a Christian, and enjoy seeing people who aren't Christians being satirized and made into amoral, ridiculous idiots, you will enjoy this book.

However if you are like me, and were hoping for something to challenge your thinking about atheism and faith, save your money. This book will only insult you and offer you nothing new to reflect on. Make no mistake: the "loser" in the title is only superficially referencing god. By the time you close the back cover, you understand that the "loser" can only be A.F. Christian, the execrable character whose letters these are purported to be.

Mary Eberstadt's self-styled atheist is a caricature, a parody of a person who capitalizes the second person pronouns of the exalted atheist minds she reveres, as though she believes them to be deities worthy of that kind of respect. Further, she seems deeply (and strangely) literate on Christian thinking and literature, because she seems to spend the entire book warning said deities that they must not reference so-and-so, because his logic is ironclad! And stay away from mentioning such-and-thus, because we atheists are wrong on that. And if we are to succeed in our mission to destroy the culture--because after all, that's what all atheists want, isn't it--we must not refer to these particular statistics ... and so on. As a final insult, she details the circumstances by which the ersatz protagonist cast off her belief in god because it was somehow inconsistent with her decision to abort her child, in other words, because it was easier to be an atheist than to accept the existence of the Christian god and be saddled with the requisite responsibility and guilt, as if they necessarily go hand in hand at all.
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I read these letters when they were first published on National Review Online. I had never cared for apologetics before this, but for me, this opened up a whole new way of looking at the subject. Every time I describe these letters to someone, they are always shocked and amazed, just like I was. The dark twist in these letters is exquisitely gut-wrenching. I can't imagine why anyone would not love this book.
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By 1 on March 22, 2015
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Valid points are raised throughout the book, but don't anticipate an academic analysis if that's what you're wanting. As a fan of the Screwtape Letters, much of the tone of that work is not nearly closely replicated here. Whereas C.S. Lewis produced a dialogue that actually seemed like characters bantering back and forth, this is very much a monologue. There is no refinement from one perspective to the next, and I find certain aspects of the tone very annoying. If the bits I suppose are intended as an attempt to instill the letter writer with personality disappear, at least a third of the book would easily vanish.

For more serious considerations of a Theistic perspective on the New Atheists I would recommend Edward Feser's The Last Superstition or the Godless Delusion by Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley. The former is rather heady, but the latter reads easily. Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity? would be of help as well to anybody wanting a theistic perspective in answer to New Atheistic assertions.
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I was happy to start reading this book and was hoping for a bit of wry humor... the subtleties of Screwtape Letters are what make it great. But it wasn't to be found here.

The premise is very promising. Atheism could use an intellectual combat in the Screwtape style. And that's what I was hoping for.

Instead, the whole book is little more than a giant joke. The tone is so sarcastic and off-putting, that it really does very little good for Christianity. I couldn't make it past the first few chapters.

Unfortunately, while Eberstadt's letters make some very good points, the "voice" is so annoying that all intellectual nuggets are lost.

For example when talking about how she doesn't like the Judeo-Christian God, she says this:

"Now on the other hand, a deity who would let me smoke and drink as much as I want, drop five pounds without going a-rex again, string up that judge from juvie court... a god who turns bread into iPod minis and water into Grey Goose vodka-- now we're getting somewhere. THAT'S what I'm talking about, if you know what I mean."

This is typical of the entire book... it's very pop-culture littered to the point of just being mush.

Too bad because I had high hopes for this book. If you want teeny bop humor, sure. But if you are looking for something real and useful... skip it.
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