Like many of their contemporaries, novelists Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke attended Sunday school as kids but drifted away from religion as adolescents. Now, as adults, they are grappling anew with the teachings of the Bible. Rejecting the hard-edged dogmas of many mainline denominations, they have reread the New Testament, reviewed their own life experiences — and come up with their own personal interpretations of Christian tenets.
Moody and Steinke’s renewed interest in Christianity struck a chord with other notable writers — and the result is this extraordinary collection of original essays. Gathering together some of the freshest and most thought-provoking voices in contemporary literature — including Madison Smartt Bell, Benjamin Cheever, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lucy Grealey, bell hooks, Ann Padgett, Joanna Scott, and Kim Wozencraft — joyful Noise offers a fascinating range of probing and very personal interpretations of what Christianity means today. Whether it’s Kathy Bowman’s poetic riffs on the significance of “Jesus’s Feet” or Barry Hannah’s guilt-tinged recollections of a neighborhood outcast who went on to find fulfillment as a hippie minister, these remarkable and wonderfully eclectic meditations are sure to find an eager audience among boomers and twentysomethings looking to renew their faith.