I had thought to let this work stand on its own without elucidation, but it is sufficiently unusual in its structure that a foreword or “forewarn” may be justified to prepare the reader for what may not always be an easy read.
As its title suggests, this novella consists of vignettes - brief stories, scenes or “slices of life” - that revolve around the theme of religion, faith, belief or the lack thereof. The goal of the author was to make these pieces complete enough to stand on their own yet related enough when taken as a whole to create a composite and compelling story. Since this format could result in cerebral weariness for the reader if overdone, attempting a longer novel seemed ill-advised, and very often the author caught himself slipping out of this mode and into a traditional narrative approach and had to course-correct to maintain “vignette integrity.” Since a few of the vignettes are dramatizations of actual events, the reader is encouraged to note the Acknowledgements page that closes the book.
The reader also will note that this is “a novella in seven ‘Acts’” (making it as strange as Douglas Adam’s five-part Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy”). The Acts serve to organize the vignettes and to legitimize the occasional use of scenes from a play that one of the characters is writing and that hopefully add comic relief while making a point. Acts is a pun on the biblical Book of Acts as well. Debate is a hybrid piece, as are the Prologue and Epilogue to some extent. Including the Prologue, Epilogue, 7 Acts and the Outtakes, there are 40 sections, one each for nightly consumption should the reader find him/herself trapped by a Flood of Biblical proportion.
The treatment and disregard for a serial timeline may leave some readers a bit confused as to who did what when at times. The best approach is to be aware of the Act in which events fall and to watch for pieces of the puzzle along the way, “having faith” that they will all eventually come together.
There is intended humor in this work, as well as satire and direct criticism of perceived folly, as well as some serious fiction. Hopefully, there is balance.