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Waiting for the Apocalypse: A Memoir of Faith and Family Hardcover – February 2, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Short-story and magazine writer Chater brings an ear for dialogue and an eye for the absurd to this tragicomic debut memoir about coming of age in the 1970s in an ultraconservative Catholic family.The ordeals of such a childhood - the nuns, the rulers, the guilt - have long provided fodder for stand-up comedians, confessional autobiographies and even musical comedies. The author, one of 11 children, contributes to the canon in this painfully funny account. Her father, a state trooper and converted Catholic, was enraged by the Church's liberalization after the 1965 Vatican II Council. He scorned shorter veils for nuns, Mass conducted in English and parishioners standing for communion as "Vatican II." In church he ordered his children to close their eyes, clench their fists and refuse the blasphemous Handshake of Peace. Chater was taught that corruption of Catholic traditions would lead to communist world domination and trigger an apocalyptic scenario called the Holy Chastisement. Her father fantasized about moving the family to the miracle capital of Lourdes, France; when that plan fizzled, they settled for rural Portugal. Initially hopeful ("even the dogs were Catholic"), they discovered that Portugal was just as "Vatican II" as California. The family sunk into poverty and returned to America, marginalized and disappointed. Chater's father grew ever more fanatical. He banned his daughters from wearing pants, shipped his sons to a cultlike anticommunist Brazilian monastery and dragged the ever-larger and poorer family to a series of guerrilla parishes that met in abandoned storefronts and empty garages. The kids got intermittent emotional relief from their devout but eminently practical mother, so frugal that she chose an old mop as airplane carry-on luggage upon leaving Portugal. The memoir's tone shifts jarringly at the end, when the voice of Chater as a bemused child becomes that of an unhappy young woman. Still, that voice relates a compelling story with a dramatic climax. Affecting and unsparingly honest. (Kirkus Reviews )
Top Customer Reviews
I'm about half way through the book and I can't put it down. Chater is a talent not to be missed. She's a beautiful storyteller that keeps you coming back wanting more. This is the perfect book for a book club.
I found the opening chapters a bit too garrulous, as we learn of the "anti-revolutionary international" opposed to Vatican II through her rather gee-whiz, overdriven style. However, as she matures, the book's tone deepens. In the travels that surround the family's desperate Portuguese diaspora, the growing divide between her dogmatic father and herself, and her own entry into the dangers of the body-- in both a sexual and an injury-prone sense-- we find her character developing.
Chater takes on her complicated life-- within her family and among their harried fellow communicants clinging to the Tridentine Latin Mass and the remnant of a pre-conciliar Church-- with gusto. She can also be nuanced, as when she encapsulates her parent's relationship. Her father expounds chapter and verse on the follies of modernism, Communism, and liberalism; her mother raises eventually ten children; in the future, her extended family will house fifteen in a tiny three-bedroom house and siblings will find themselves living in jerry-built shacks on the patio and tents.Read more ›
Veronica congratulations on a wonderful work of art, I can not wait to go home and finish it. BTW, Dixon Poole was a funny/weird dude. Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Literally just a book about a woman wining about her childhood... So glad it's out of print but still mad it's on kindlePublished 3 months ago by Rudy Cecere
an amazing tale and more incredibly, a testament to the love in the family that the kids grew up to be such normal, wonderful adults.Published 16 months ago by Lisa V. Schow
Interesting only as a case study in mental and emotional parental abuse. It is not a story of faith. Read morePublished on February 4, 2011 by S.
This memoir is keenly observed, with some of the sharpest, well-crafted lines I've read in a long time (and I read about 2 memoirs a week). Read morePublished on August 24, 2009 by Earth Momma
"Waiting for the Apocalypse" is simply extraordinary, a hilarious and tragic magical-realism epic that takes a suburban family through one of the most unforgettable... Read morePublished on August 6, 2009 by Tony
One of the best books I have read in the last few years and one that was hard to put down. I heard the author on NPR (National Public Radio) and I just had to buy her book. Read morePublished on April 11, 2009 by Patti B
I find myself comparing Veronica Chater's subject and writing skills to Jeannette Walls and The Glass Castle. Read morePublished on March 28, 2009 by Heidi Thompson
How good was Waiting for the Apocalypse? So good I forced myself to put it down from time to time so I wouldn't devour it in one reading. Read morePublished on February 26, 2009 by Donald J. Meyer
It has been a long time since I have been so completely absorbed by a book and I just loved the descriptive and lyrical language. Read morePublished on February 22, 2009 by Anita E. Bowen