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Creative Arts Day

Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen is a Catholic writer, which means he is placed in the same category as Flannery O'Connor and Graham Greene, which tells you nothing about his work since he, like any real artist, is his own person with his own style and his own compelling tropes. But like his two famous predecessors, he is concerned with the realities of good and of evil, forgiveness, unconditional love, and sorrow in the worlds he so gracefully offers us; worlds often filled with treachery, self-deception, violence, and a burning search for purpose and God's love. Hansen's prose is lean, crisp, gorgeous, taut, and always, as its crafted core, poetic. While he often generates a story from Biblical precedent, he feels no need to write in one genre or one setting or about one group of people. Hansen takes risks: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Desperadoes are about America's mythic outlaws, Mariette in Ecstasy presents a beautiful 17 year-old girl who may or may not be experiencing stigmata in an early 20th Century convent; Atticus is a Prodigal Son story set in contemporary times of drug use and Harley-Davidsons, and Hitler's Niece lures us to Hitler's seductive powers. Hansen does his homework; his severe attention to detail always blossoms into glorious story stepped in humanity and theological questioning.

The following two excerpts are from Mariette in Ecstasy:


Everyone in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows then walks up to Mariette and kisses her or tenderly pats her hands or asks for remebrance in her prayers. And she sees her father standing in misery by the first station, where Christ was condemned, his forearms crossed over his hot suit and vest, his eyes as red as noise. She goes to him in order to say goodbye, but Dr. Baptise hurriedly walks away and ducks outside into heat. She turns to the high altar and hears the choir singing the "Te Deum" and sees the old priest inviting her forward with both hands, and she realizes that he has opened the green marble Communion railing. She passes through with joy, without glancing back, genuflecting to Christ in the tabernacle and going to the hidden door of the grille that Mother Celine is holding ajar.




Something wriggles in the green stew of algae at the water's edge.

High up on a stark jut of wasted hickory, a hoot owl turns its head completely around and persecutes the night with its share.

Church windows and song. Mattins, Lauds, And then footsteps.


Wingsoar and a soft thud in the garden, and then a frantic writhing that the whacking wings carry away.

A hawkmoth touches down on the tension of still water, turns on a soft breeze, and unsticks itself. The moonsweep is sliced with ripples.