Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: Handling Sin

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Handling Sin
Author: Michael Malone

Author's Facebook page:
Date: 1986
Publisher: Little Brown & Company / Pocket Books
ISBN: 0-671-87526-4
Length: 656 pages
Quote: “Mr. Hayes was forced to wander to save his inheritance from a father who’d, again, run ostentatiously berserk.”
The New York Times Book Review said, in a blurb on the back of the paperback edition: “While comparisons will be made to A Confederacy of Dunces...the humor of Handling Sin is superior.”
If you weren’t absolutely thrilled by A Confederacy of Dunces and pining to read another novel in the same genre, I can save you some time right now. The comparisons will be made because both novels are comic adventures involving quiet, straitlaced men who are bothered and bewildered by New Orleans. The humor of Handling Sin is superior in the opinions of those who prefer (a) a central character who really is a good old boy, basically sane and decent (Ignatius is probably sane but awfully confused), and (b) interracial sex rather than homosexuality.
Apart from that, I wouldn't say that the humor of Handling Sin is superior or inferior, but that it’s similar. Ignatius O’Reilly is a young man, emotionally and experientially an adolescent; Raleigh Hayes is an adult who’s seemed to be successful, even sophisticated, until his author chose to launch him through a preposterous midlife crisis. Ignatius is Catholic; Raleigh is Protestant. Ignatius is technically a native of New Orleans, but too reclusive to be considered of the city; Raleigh is a native of North Carolina. That’s how you can tell them apart. Otherwise it’s still the same comic device: one sober, reticent character who is continually being shocked by the vice and violence and vulgarity and raw sexuality and decadence and just plain selfishness into which he’s suddenly been propelled; all the other characters are, basically, clowns.
This book is recommended to adults only. It's not porn, but it contains plenty of frank vulgarity. It is funny, and not all of the jokes are even dirty. It's not a book that I, as an aunt, would want to be caught chortling over by The Nephews. It is, like A Confederacy of Dunces, a book that few people would blame a college teacher for sharing with students, and it's actually appeared on some college reading lists.

Michael Malone is alive and active in cyberspace, so Handling Sin (and any other books by him we may sell) is a Fair Trade Book. When you send $5 for the book + $5 for shipping, Malone or a charity of his choice gets $1. If we can fit other Fair Trade Books into the same package, and usually we can, each author gets at least $1 (10% of the total price for each book) even though the $5 for shipping covers the whole package.