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The Road to Emmaus


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Longlisted for the National Book Award

A moving, subtle sequence of narrative poems, from a sharp new poetic voice

Two strangers walk toward Emmaus. Christ has just been crucified, and they are heartbroken—until a third man joins them on the road and comforts them. Once they reach Emmaus and break bread, the pair realizes they have been walking with Christ himself. But in the moment they recognize him, he disappears. Spencer Reece draws on this tender story in his mesmerizing collection—one that fearlessly confronts love and its loss, despair and its consolation, and faith in all of its various guises.

Reece's central figure in The Road to Emmaus is a middle-aged man who becomes a priest in the Episcopal Church; these poems follow him to New York City, to Honduras, to a hospital where he works as a chaplain, to a prison, to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. With language of simple, lyrical beauty that gradually accrues weight and momentum, Reece spins compelling dramas out of small moments: the speaker, living among a group of orphans, wondering "Was it true, what they said, that a priest is a house lit up?"; two men finding each other at a Coming Out Group; a man trying to become visible after a life that had depended on not being seen.

A yearning for connection, an ache of loneliness, and the instant of love disappearing before our eyes haunt this long-awaited second collection from Spencer Reece.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 04, 2014 – Reece, in his follow-up to 2001's The Clerk's Tale, displays virtues may not be rare, taken individually, but are unique in their combination; writing about places in Florida, New England, Europe with sardonic detail, and telling stories of people who might be at home in Henry James. Reece has an eye for the bizarre, but strives to sum things up as he addresses love between men, middle age, and worldly disappointment with raw feeling, and he directs his passion not only outward and inward, but upward, towards the Christian God. In a 17-part meditation about Reece's former partner in Florida, ducks on a pond "quack-quacked,/ copulating into oblivion as if sex were religion./ When I could not reach what I loved,/ the world was rent." When Reece released his celebrated debut he was a menswear salesman in Palm Beach; he has now been ordained as an Episcopal priest (a memoir is forthcoming). That journey from one place to another, one vocation to another, informs the whole book, which encompasses self-disgust but begins and ends with compassion, from "the neonatal ICU" (where Reece served as a hospital chaplain) to a walk in a park, and a gay marriage, in New York, where "The Gospel of John was right:/ the world holds so much life."
The Road to Emmaus
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Jul 01, 2014
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 144 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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