Publication Date: May 1, 2013
In Diary of a Heretic by Kathleen Maher, coffee shop owner Malcolm Tully wants a life with something to anticipate. Everything is the same as it has been every day. He wants companionship and people saying things that should be said, but no one ever gives voice. When he vents his frustration to his baker Carlos, Malcolm never suspects how his life will change. All he wanted was a forum for people to talk freely, and suddenly he’s caught up in a whirlwind of bread blessings and audience attended éclaire glazing. He’s on a ride to the top that will open his eyes to the world around him.
The author, Kathleen Maher, gifted me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
For hours after finishing Diary of a Heretic, I wondered how I, a mere reviewer, could do justice in a review to this modern classic presented. This is a deeply profound novel. I wallowed in the bathtub and contemplated and then realized like Malcolm, sometimes we just have to get on with it. I loved this novel and Malcolm would never understand that.
You might ask, reading the description, why people would follow some average guy to raise him to the level to which Malcolm rises in this novel. How can we believe his story? Malcolm doesn’t see why people would follow him and though he’s telling us the story, Maher conveys credibility within the text to the reader through Malcolm’s philosophically charged journal entries. Isn’t this deep introspection and observation about the common sense of life the sort of validation for which we all hunger? Of course, we know that behind the scenes, all is not well for Malcolm. He doesn’t want the accolades but he so very deeply wants them. The knowledge that he is good for something and that people will listen to him is intoxicating.
At one point in the novel, Carlos tells Malcolm that they’ll take over the world because that’s what religions do. Religion without rules is a roller coaster that Malcolm boarded and can’t get off. We see Malcolm develop as Maher tells his story through him. The thin lines between sex, hate and religion are palpable in the novel. Over the course of the novel, Malcolm develops an infatuation for a young man who reminds him of his lost love and the development of that story line is philosophically and brilliantly written.
Maher originally posted Diary of a Heretic as a serial on her website, but I am glad to have had it in this format. As established, I am not a patient person and cannot imagine having to wait weeks to discover the fate of a character that we want to yell at, shake, wake up and tell everything will be OK.
Much of the plot flows around Malcolm like water. He is a bit of a player in his own life. He conveys to us the events and wonders why things must be as they are. We see his paranoia, and we come to realize that just like Malcolm, we never truly knew the other characters.
As stated above, I loved this book. Diary of a Heretic was like reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions” for the first time. Maher gives us a deeply philosophical and yet very approachable novel. Pick this one up today and let me know what you think.
If Diary of a Heretic by Kathleen Maher sounds like a book for you read an excerpt and buy on