Saturday, August 1, 2020

Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words -- Chapter 1, The Beauty of Goodness


I have been invited by Art Embraces Words to do a virtual reading this month (August) of a chapter from my latest (2020) novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words. A firm date has not been set, but I will keep my readers informed through all my online social media sources.

Below, is that same first chapter. Enjoy this "sneak preview."


The Beauty of Goodness

 

[Myriel’s sister, Baptistine] had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been a succession of pious works, had produced upon her a kind of transparent whiteness, and in growing old she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness.

-- Fantine,  Book the First, Chapter I, M. Myriel: An Upright Man
 
 
     I am compelled by grace to explore a phenomenon I have observed with awe over the course of my lifetime. We Frenchmen are obsessed with beauty. The ancient Greeks were as appearance-consumed as upper class culture is today. Yet, they had the insight to peg the root of beauty to the word, ρα (in Koine, their common dialect). It meant “being one’s hour,” an interesting linkage to be sure. Beauty, then, knows “what time it is” or better perhaps “knowing who I am and who I am not.” My personal mandate as a human, then, is to know my true relationship with every person I encounter, at each stage of my journey and all the individual days that comprise that journey.

     I offer my dear sister Baptistine as a model of virtuous living. The call to recognize the “beauty of goodness,” however, applies not only to those having a lifelong resume of virtue. I have witnessed beauty’s goodness at life’s earliest stages. A toddler knows no other way of being than “in the moment,” even as the child grows and changes from week to week. A mother holding her child in her arms, searches beyond that moment for hints of the emerging man or woman in their maturity. I suspect that, within every parent there resides an unspoken awareness that they may not live to see their children fulfill their God-given destiny.


I have witnessed the beauty of goodness in teenage years, when it easily suffers displacement along the meandering path to maturity. I pay attention when I hear of any child, teenager, or young adult taken too soon by illness or tragedy. Also, when I hear of young soldiers sacrificing their precious lives on the desecrated altars of their elders’ self-serving wars. Parents and friends remark, “He was such a fine young man, always ready to assist someone,”  or “He was too good  for  this world.”  My heart cries,  “No!  The world  needs such young, idealistic men to stay alive, to make their mark upon our shattered society!” Some of us live our way into beauty. Others suffer their way to it. I think of patients I have known in our neighboring hospital whose clear eyes glow with inner light.
 
The beauty of goodness is like that hidden treasure Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13:44:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. The one who finds it, buries it again; and so happy is he, that he goes and sells everything he has, in order to buy that field."
 
     When I discover goodness, be it for a moment or longer, I rejoice in its native beauty and bask in its bright light. So inspired, I take quill pen in hand. I lay no claim, on earth or before God, to poetic aptitude. At those times when I hear the call—I should say “challenge”—of the muse, I dare to express my heart in the fewest possible syllables. In doing so, I take comfort in knowing that no other eyes will see—and, God forbid, judge--my verse.

  

The Beauty of Goodness


i see goodness

in a mother’s smile

a helping hand

a loving heart

 

i find goodness

in a kind word

a silent shrine

sunrise aglow

 

chancing upon the

beauty of goodness

i catch my breath

stand in awe


Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words is available through your local bookstores or through Amazon and other online book sellers. Paperback list price: $17.99, ebook $3.99. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Inspector Javert--Here's What a Chapter 1, First Draft of a Novel Looks Like

I've never done this before, but here goes. 
Dear Readers and Colleague Fiction Writers:
The following is my first draft of Chapter 1 of my novel in progress, Inspector Javert, looks like. My fellow writers know well that Chapter 1 of the published novel may bear little resemblance to what you are about to read. So, here goes:

 

Chapter the First

Javert’s Leap


 

“Do I stand at hell’s threshold?”

“Why might you think that?”

This unseen speaker’s voice had an unexpected air of calm . . . welcome.

“I committed the gravest of all sins. Taking my own life. Now, I must reconcile myself to accept the punishment I deserve.”

“And what might that sin be?”

“In the moment following my discovery of the one true God, whom I had never truly known . . . we wrestled, as Jacob once did with the angel. Through the whole of one night. Having wrestled with the author of an even higher law than the civil code, I could not go back to headquarters—to my life—as if nothing had changed. I might have even found myself one day in prison. What a fall that would be! To end my wretched life where it began. And from which unquestioning adherence to law had rescued me. At the same time, going forward, taking an unmapped step into the future. Impossible. This very night, my last on earth, unleashed within me the folly of my life, the wretched horror of facing another day on earth . . . . I sought  the coward’s way out. Taking my own life. I stand before the throne of my Divine Judge, sir, prepared for my final judgement and punishment.”

“And what do you expect that punishment to be?”

“My sin is between my Creator and me. Whoever you are, I owe you no further discourse.”

Javert’s unknown companion did not respond. “Am I alone again?” the self-condemned new arrival said. “No matter. I prefer no audience for my commission to the pit of flames.”

His companion spoke. “I am sent by God, your Creator and Father, to assure you, my son, that you are safe.”

“Perhaps you misunderstood, so I repeat. I am resigned to my fate.”

The calm, kindly voice repeated his assurance of safe harbor.

Javert rejected deceit. “Come, Divine Judge! I am a man of action. Cause and effect. Why do you delay? Only once in my life of honorable service did I hesitate. Only once violated my sworn duty as  defender of law and right order. See what it cost me! Life. Liberty. Reward for a job well done. Perhaps promotion to the higher positions which I deserved. Until the last evil night. If you delay my punishment, I accept that as punishment begun.”

“What is the last thing you remember?” his companion said.

“Who are you to ask such a question?” Javert had no history of responding to an unknown questioner. He demanded confessions. He carried out punishment proclaimed by a judge, be it jail time or the most feared sentence of all—years spent in the horrors of the galleys. Even death by guillotine paled by comparison to a lifetime in chains.

“Permit me introduce myself.”

The deceitful response came with a tone of respectful humility.

“I am Charles Francois Myriel, late Bishop of the Diocese of Digne. Your fellow countryman. The Divine One whom you recently encountered assigned me to welcome you to Afterlife.”

“After . . . life? Then, I . . . I still live?”

“Quite. But in a form previously unknown to you.”

“A bishop? .  . . . Of the Holy Catholic Church? Surely you mock me. I reject your disguise, Satan! You have met your match. I spent my entire life unmasking deceivers like you.”

“Your caution is reasonable, I assure you. Nonetheless, such was my position in life. Where you go now there is no rank. All are equal.”

“Then, you too are an unrepentant sinner?” Javert said. “We arrive together at the gates of hell to await and share the fire that never consumes.”

“That is what you expect?”

“I do and am resigned to it. What other fate may the likes of us deserve? A failed bishop of the Church and a fallen guardian of the sacred legal codes of France. How we paragons of righteousness have betrayed our vocations!”

“On the contrary, Javert.” Myriel stifled a chuckle. “I assure you we stand not at the edge of the fiery pit. Far from it, it pleases me to report. Exceedingly.”

“Before you confuse me further, I need to ask how you know me, sir? Have we met before?”

“In earth-life?”

“Call it what you will. I am . . . was . . . known for never forgetting a face. I etched indelibly into memory the image of every man, woman, and child who came within my broad purview. Though a man of your own faith, I do not recall your passing my way or ever hearing your name.”

“Correct. We never met, in France or anywhere during our lifetimes. We do, however, share a common acquaintance.”

“Oh? And that might be?”

 Javert disliked word games—or any games. When he demanded a confession, he settled for nothing but raw, unembellished truth. Cheats and liars, every wrongdoer crossing his path spent time in prison, if the feared guillotine did not claim priority.

“The man known to each of us is Jean Valjean, who still walks in Earth time. Surely you recall that name . . . and face, Javert. I met him only once. You two, I believe had a lengthy history ”

Hearing his lifelong nemesis’s name jolted Javert. A flood of memories gushed back in rapid sequence. Their force rendered Javert speechless. Reclaiming his composure, he hissed, “Indeed. I . . . know . . . the man.” After a nightmare-filled pause, he continued, “I despise the very sound of that name. At the same time—and I cannot believe what I am about to say—I cherish it. Never in my life have such contradictory emotions flooded me at the same time, regarding the same person.”

“I must confess,” the bishop admitted, “I have struggled against similar clashes of feelings myself.”

He recalled his years as a young husband exiled in Rome. Sharing life with his new bride. Their mutual, passionate love and the hope of bringing a child into the world. Not long after her death, he felt the call, of all things, to renewal of his Catholic faith and later—and most surprising—to priesthood.

At first, he had shunned the image of himself as celibate priest, seeing in it a betrayal of his lifelong devotion to his life-partner, too soon snatched from him. She took to her grave their most-prized possession. Hope. A desire for children. How he fought the call to ministry! The stronger his effort to deflect God’s call, the more convinced he became that he had already decided to surrender to the insistent invitation. A decision he never regretted. Not that he ceased loving his spouse, whom he lifted up daily in consecration along with the Sacred Bread of Eucharist. He said nothing of this to the newly arrived spirit, called on earth Inspector Javert.

“About this Jean Valjean.” With great difficulty he asked, “Does he live still?”

“I assure you, Javert, he lives.”

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Inspector Javert--Part III, The Third Conversion

Marius Pontmercy and Cosette, as depicted
in an early version of Les Miserables 

We have already seen that Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables as a conversion story.  First, and most obvious is the conversion of Jean Valjean from homeless parolee to giant of a man who lives the rest of his life under various aliases. Funded by Bishop Myriel's valuable silver heirlooms, he adds to his fortune. But, he lives his whole life as a fugitive from (unjust) justice. 

The second conversion we saw in Part II, that of Javert, who wrestles with God and finally gives up the struggle, admitting that his whole life has been a sham. Everything he has struggled to be--a man of law and order--finally comes crashing down on him on the night he does the unthinkable . . . violates the law by releasing his nemesis, Jean Valjean, from custody. 

What happens next can be described as "the point beyond which." Having yielded to his "Higher Power," he sees his only choice to be ending his life. Some might say, he finds God only to then run away by committing suicide. I prefer to think that his conversion is so sudden and powerful that nothing remains on earth for him to be, do, or accomplish that he throws himself from the bank of the River Seine into . . . the loving arms of the same God he has fought against all his life.

But . . . there's a third conversion story up Victor Hugo's authorial sleeve. And that is the good fortune of Marius Pontmercy, husband of Jean Valjean's fosterchild, Cosette. Shortly after their wedding, Jean Valjean revealed to Marius his true identity as the former convict Javert had hunted all his life. Despite the fact that Valjean endowed Marius and Cosette with his entire fortune, Marius still cannot accept him and does everything he can to keep his wife apart from her beloved "father." 

Approached by Thenardier, the ne'er do well scoundrel, bribes Marius to use the money to start a new life (in America). During their heated discussion, Marius learns only by chance that Jean Valjean was the man who saved  his life, after the massacre at the barricade in 1832. Stunned by this news, Marius realizes how wrong, cruel, and ungrateful he has been to Cosette's recuer. He confesses to her and together they rush to Valjean--only to find him on his deathbed.

So, the three "converts" in Les Miserables are Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and Marius Pontmercy. The casual reader of Hugo's immortal novel often misses the clues Hugo reveals in the book's Prologue:

"The book which the reader has under his eye at this moment is, from one end to the other, as a whole and in detail, whatever may be its intermittences, exceptions and faults, the march from evil to good, from the unjust to the just, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. Point of departure: matter; point of arrival: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end."

Note: Thenardier could have been the fourth convert. Instead, he remained a scoundrel, presumably for the rest of his life. Hugo tells us Thenardier used Marius's money to book passage to America, where he became a slave trader.









Monday, June 1, 2020

Javert Part II--The essence of Les Miserables and Hugo's "hidden" meaning



I have confession to make. I've read Les Miserables cover to cover several times and have studied individual sections of the text a number times over the years. I've seen a number of film and TV versions, both foreign and domestic and seen the musical production several times, both in San Francisco and New York (with another near-miss in London last summer). 


Not until I began researching my next book project (Inspector Javert: Darkness to Light) did I come to realize that Victor Hugo wrote the novel as a conversion story! Here it is in the author's own words as written in the Prologue to Les Miserables:

"The book which the reader has under his eye at this moment is, from one end to the other, as a whole and in detail, whatever may be its intermittences, exceptions and faults, the march from evil to good, from the unjust to the just, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. Point of departure: matter; point of arrival: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end."

There it was, right before my unseeing eyes!

Once I saw the author's underlying purpose in writing the 1,000+ word novel, read the text with a different mindset. I realized that, in addition to the most obvious conversion (Jean Valjean), there were not one but two other characters who underwent a major spiritual change in their lives. 

First, there was Javert. In the time following his release of Valjean, after the episode in the Paris sewers, and the time of his famous leap into the River Seine, the Inspector had gone through a long and painful wrestling match with his conscience. The outcome was realization that his whole life had been built on a terrible misunderstanding of right and wrong. Life, he finally saw, was not black-and-white law and order as he had thought. He understood, for the first time in his life, that what he had considered to be punishable vice might, in some way, be virtue.

Javert's conversion was real, but not mature enough to do the work of rebuilding his life. The only way forward, he concluded, was to die. So, he leapt off the embankment into the swirling whirlpool of the Seine. Or did he? I believe he leapt, much to his surprise, into the loving arms of the  God who had never given up on him.

 This reminds me of Francis Thompson's (d. 1907) famous poem of conversion, "The Hound of Heaven." The first stanza sets the scene:

I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

(I'll discuss the third and most hidden conversion story in my next blog entry.)  

- - - - - - - -

P.S.   I'm still searching for the name of the artist who created the image used in this post. 


Don't miss Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words 

"An stunning achievement!" -- Judith Ingram, Forgiving Day by Day








Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Moving on to my next book . . . Inspector Javert

Javert - Les Miserables - Character notes - DC Heroes RPG ...
Javert, from Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo, published in 1862
.

Having just launched Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words, what's a writer and avid Les Miserables junky to do? Follow BM with a book about the most dangerous and mysterious of all Victor Hugo's antiheroes, Inspector Javert (if he ever had a given first name, it isn't mentioned in the novel)? 


It's as if he came from the womb a dedicated policeman. His single purpose in life?  To catch and jail every lawbreaker in his path, until the just and punishing God he believed in and whose cause he served (in his own misguided way) carried him to his eternal reward. "Job well done," my son.


In fact, this young, innocent child quickly decided he had only two possible life-choices in front of him . . . follow his fortunetelling mother and his father, both of whom were serving prison sentences at the time of Javert's birth . . . or to become the most impeccable and zealous lawman ever created. And go to his grave with a clean slate to be welcomed by a choir of angels singing, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the reward your flawless service has merited."

Since 1862, Javert has become known the world over by readers of Les Miserables and audiences packing movie theaters and stage venues. We know him as a tragic foil to the the man of principle and charity, Jean Valjean (who assumes a variety of identities in his desire to cover his tragic past as the paroled prisoner 24601). These two antagonists  first met during Valjean's prison years. As chance--and Victor Hugo--would have it, they cross paths again . . . twice, at least, during Valjean's life in Western France and finally in Paris.

The question for me was . . . why do I want to enter the dark mind and soul of this man who dedicated his life to bringing lawbreakers to justice with a vengeance unsurpassed in world literature? To be honest, I fought it for months. After writing about the wonderful bishop who turned Valjean's life around and set him on a course of compassionate living and works of charity, I balked. Throughout the writing of Bishop Myriel, I reveled in probing the soul and good works of that great man. Then, why Javert?

Yes, why Javert?

(to be continued)


Don't miss Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words 

"An stunning achievement!" -- Judith Ingram, Forgiving Day by Day









Saturday, May 16, 2020

California Writer's Club--Mt Diablo Branch Newsflash


Al Garrotto's New Book,  Read On...


I’m delighted to announce publication of my 9th novel. Not many who have seen only the stage/musical version know that Bishop Myriel is the first character to appear in Victor Hugo’s 1862 classic. Or, that Hugo devoted the novel’s first 90 pages to this backwater priest. The bishop’s immortal words to Jean Valjean have burrowed into the world’s consciousness: “My brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you . . . and I give it to God!”

Hugo reveals that the bishop intended to write a book on the topic of Christian Duty. Hugo also provides a detailed outline of the book, along with the fact that the bishop never not got to finish it—until now. In Bishop Myriel, I delve into the bishop’s generous spirit, “channeling” and writing his book, as he might have . . . in “his own words.”

  “A stunning achievement! Alfred J. Garrotto delivers compelling spiritual insights through the humble voice of  Victor Hugo’s beloved priest, Bishop Myriel. Meticulously researched and delivered in the style of an early nineteenth-century writer, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words charms as it challenges.
Judith Ingram, author of Forgiving Day by Day

“Alfred J. Garrotto has written a magical book. He moves into the ‘being’ of Bishop Myriel and explores Duty, Hope, Faith, and Love with passion and vulnerability. Victor Hugo has a smile of approval as he glances down from heaven.
Kathryn Davi-Cardinale, author, Joseph, My Son-My Guide

e-Book and paperback editions available on Amazon.com  
IngramSpark edition available through bookstores.  
View the Trailer on YouTube.  
ISBN: 978-0-578-64441-7


      * * * *

Monday, April 13, 2020

View the new trailer for Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words


I invite you to watch the trailer for my new novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words.






Available now in both ebook and paperback formats.



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Interview with Alfred J. Garrotto

Dear Friends:
I invite you to read this interview I did for the monthly newsletter of the California Writers Club, Mount Diablo Branch [Central Contra Costa County, California].


I invite you to read my new book (follow this link)



Approximately how long have you been a California
Writers Club (CWC) member and why did you join?


I joined CWC in 1996. I knew about it beforehand but wanted to have a published novel (A Love Forbidden) before joining a professional writers’ organization. This reasoning was skewed, I admit, because the novel was my fourth commercially published book. The first three were a series on adult faith formation. At the time, I didn’t think those “counted.” Go figure.

How has your CWC membership helped you or your writing?


Membership in CWC has been invaluable in helping me grow (gradually) into    a much more mature writer in every way. Looking at my early books, I feel like 
going back and reediting/republishing them. I am a better, more professional
writer now than I was when I first joined the branch.

You have published a lot of books! What is the total number published, and did you have a traditional publisher
or 
publish them yourself? If your work was self-published,
why did you 
decide to publish your work  yourself?

I have just published my 13th book (5 nonfiction, 8 fiction). I had agents for my earlier books. When I hit the “senior citizen” stage of my life, I realized that I no longer wanted to endure the year or two it took to see my books in print from the time of sale. I switched to print-on-demand for my last four or five books because I can control the entire process from concept to writing to editing and publishing. I have been able to go from first written word to publication in less than a year. 

If your work was published with a traditional publisher, 
how did you find your publisher?

The now-defunct Winston Press (Minneapolis) published my first three nonfiction books. They were very good to me throughout the process, even flying me to their home office for consultation. I had no agent for those books. They sold pretty well in the low thousands).

I had two different agents for my next set of books. These were bought by small publishing houses (Genesis Press and Hilliard & Harris). It was then that I learned the harsh reality of small presses. They did little if anything to market my books. After the agent’s cut plus the publisher’s profit, I got a very small percentage on the sale of each book.

Do you have a favorite, or one that you enjoyed
writing 
more than others?

Nothing ranks higher than completing and selling my first
novel (
A Love Forbidden). I got very emotional—even wept—
when I felt opened the box containing printed copies of my
novel. Seeing the book “in the flesh,” so to speak was
overwhelming. 
Next to that, my most joyful writing
experience was the planning and creation of
Bishop
Myriel: In His Own Words
.

How long have you been writing?

            Professionally, for about 30+ years.

             Do you have a website?

Yes, I have a website (https://www.alfredjgarrotto.com) and 
a blog site (https://wisdomoflesmiserables.blogspot.com)
I’m on Facebook at AlfredJGarrottoAuthor
and Tweet at @algarrotto

What are you currently working on?

My novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words, is now
available 
in e-book and print formats at Amazon.com
(see link above 
under cover photo. By mid-May it should be orderable at any bookstore. The paperback
edition saw the light of day in 
March 2020. In Les
Miserables, Victor Hugo outlined in detail a book
that his character, 
Bishop Myriel, intended to write. 
Then, Hugo added that the bishop got no farther
than the 
outline.
In my book I dare to write the text for the bishop,
following the 
exact outline Hugo laid out, just as the
author
might have written it. It is a great challenge, but I do my best to crawl inside the bishop’s mind
and channel his beautiful spirit.

In which genre(s) do you write?

I write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, with an occasional
magazine article 
or book review. My fiction works range
from romantic thrillers to the 
spirituality of creative
talent 
(The Soul of Art.).

How have your background, previous work and/or
experience contributed to your writing?


Mightily. I spent 12 years in the seminary and 18 years as a
Catholic 
priest, before being called to another vocation—
marriage and parenthood. 

For the last 20 years, I have served as a lay minister in
my local parish, 
so my earlier education in philosophy and theology and my life experience in parish ministry
were not wasted.

What do you like about writing?

The most fun in writing is that you never know what is inside
of you 
until you see it on a page. When I look at any of my
published work, 
I’m likely to say, “This is really good. I wonder who wrote it?” Even though my name is on the cover
or in the byline of a 
magazine article, I’ve had the same
experience of wondering where all 
those ideas and their
literary 
expression came from. It can’t be the same guy
I see in the mirror every 
morning.

Who or what has influenced you the most as a writer?

It may sound corny, but I think of my ability to write publishable
prose (and some 
poetry, too) as pure a gift from the Creator Spirit.
I don’t want to seem too pretentious, 
but that’s how I identify
my primary muse. 

I’d say my greatest source of inspiration has been the Mt. Diablo
Branch
of the California Writers Club and all the amazing authors
I’ve met and been influenced 
by over the last quarter century.

How do you define success as a writer?

I write because I cannot
not write. I am not a famous or
even 
noteworthy author. I make very little money
considering the hours, 
weeks, and months of thought and labor
writing and publishing 
demands. I am a “successful” author,
if I am faithful to my originating 
inspiration to write and have
done my best to translate that inspiration 
into language that
might inspire others in some way. In short, I am a success 
if I gave it my best effort and feel good about the finished work.
Anything 
else that follows is a welcome surprise.

What part of the writing process is most difficult
for you? 


Most difficult socially is to balance the time I need to write with family time—I can’t write in 5-10 min. spurts. When I’m on a roll, it’s hard to break away and be present to the
people around me.


In the independent publishing process, the hardest part is meeting the specs of the automated software. This is especially true of paperback and hard cover publishing. I’ve found KDP persnickety but doable. I finally had to hire book designer Andrew Benzie to upload my cover and interior
to IngramSpark. 


What kind of research do you do, if any, and how longdo you spend researching before beginning a story/piece of work?

In writing Bishop Myriel, my research has been ongoing for a
number 
of years. I’ve read the text so many times that it’s
ingrained in me. 
I did have to do some research but found
everything I needed 
online (mainly Wikipedia for dates
and name spaces/spelling, etc.).


Paying attention to pre-awakening (morning) inspirations is valuable. I get some of my best ideas, answers, solutions in the haze of waking up.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I’d say it’s more energizing than exhausting, but there are
limits. 
After in intense session, I need to just shut down,
then pick it up 
again later (or the next day.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I run into so many people who want to write but never seem 
to make time for it. They say everyone has at least one book in 
them, but only a few of us actually take the time to do it. If onewants to write, there’s no other way but to do it.

What are your future writing goals? I have at least two more books in me, if God gives me the yearsand good health to accomplish this. 
(1)   I want to write a 3
rd volume in my Wisdom of Les Miserables series. Bishop Myriel is #2. The first was Lessons
from the 
Heart of Jean Valjean. I intend to finish with Inspector Javert:  In His Own Words. Part of me shrinks from
entering that man’s 
dark hole, but I’d like to fill in some
blanks of his life. 


(2)   I want to do a second expanded edition of The Soul of Art.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No, I’ve probably said too much already.



Sunday, February 16, 2020

Bishop Myriel--A Professional Review


Spiritual writer, Judith Ingram (Forgiving Day by Day), has just published a review of my new novel, Bishop Myriel: In His Own Words.  I am pleased to share it with you here:







REVIEW by Judith Ingram

A Stunning Achievement!

Alfred J. Garrotto has composed a novel that ushers Victor Hugo’s fictional character, Bishop Myriel, out from the shadows of the Les Misérables stage play to the front-and-center position to which Hugo’s famous novel assigns him. Hugo hints in his novel that the bishop was writing a volume on Christian duty but left it unfinished. Garrotto steps in to cleverly elaborate on the bishop’s detailed Scriptural outline—thoughtfully provided by Hugo himself—and composes a work of theological reflections as if penned in the good bishop’s own hand.

Calling himself the ghostwriter in this tri-level authorship he shares with Myriel and Hugo, Garrotto quickly immerses his readers in the voice and heart of Bishop Myriel through a series of autobiographical vignettes. The charming formality of the bishop’s narrative and pitch-perfect style befitting an early nineteenth-century writer render the ghostwriter invisible and magically transport the reader to the very feet of this humble priest, wise beyond his years and devoted to Christian service.

After his introductory vignettes, the bishop presents his “completed” work, Duty. While the stories charm and endear the bishop to his readers, Duty stuns with its brilliant, incisive treatment of fundamental truths of Scripture and their application. The bishop laments his own shortcomings, yet his love for Christ and passion for giving himself to others in service outweigh his flaws. The reader is left to wonder whose soul is truly revealed by these deep wells of compassion, understanding, and purity of heart—is it Myriel’s, Hugo’s, or the ghostwriter’s? The bishop might answer that all such beauty must ultimately spring from the Christ Himself, to whom all three authors give first honor.

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Bishop Myriel is now available for presale in e-book format. The paperback edition is due out in early to mid March of this year.
 
I hope all you Les Miz fans out there will enjoy this most unusual book. Unusual how? It is a fictional story whose protagonist is a fictional character created by the master fiction writer  Victor Hugo.