Vestments (Paperback)

By John Reimringer

Milkweed Editions, 9781571310866, 432pp.

Publication Date: September 6, 2011

List Price: 16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Let me begin today, illumined by Thy light, to destroy this part of the natural man which lives in me in its entirety, the obstacle that constantly keeps me from Thy Love.

Taught this prayer as a boy by his grandfather, James Dressler recites it each time he's tempted by earthly desires. Originally drawn to the priesthood by the mystery, purity, and sensual fabric of the Church, as well as by its promise of a safe harbor from his tempestuous home, James finds himself -- just a few years after his ordination -- attracted again to his first love, Betty Garcia. Torn between these opposing desires, and haunted by his familial heritage, James finds himself at a crossroads. Exploring issues in the Catholic Church and in life, and infused throughout by a rich sense of the history and vibrant texture of St. Paul, this is an utterly honest and subtly lyrical novel.

Praise For Vestments

"Vestments is a pitch-perfect account of priestly life at just the time when the old ways are fast disappearing."Commonweal

In this potent debut about a wayward yet devout young priest who struggles to reconcile his faith with longings of the flesh, Reimringer has crafted a suspenseful, illuminating, and highly readable saga. . . . Reimringer excels, most notably, at revealing how the sensual delectations of Catholic ritual and the forbidden delights of the flesh are part of the same continuum, as sin and repentance feed off each other.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Through his thoughtful themes and lyrical prose, Reimringer effortlessly restores a measure of dignity to the priesthood even as he pays tender homage to the working-class roots of St. Paul.”Booklist

Luminous. . . [a] beautiful debut.”Pioneer Press

A plainspoken but finely turned debut novel. . . [James Dressler] is full-blooded in a way fictional proests so often aren’t, and he stars in an admirably complex study of family ties.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

This book knows the soul of the great old city: the yellowing taverns and fraying neighborhoods, the sense of grace in decline, the doubtful saints wrangling their disbelief. John Reimringer writes with the confidence and observation of one who was there at the time and is there still, and his novel has the knuckles and shouting and beer breath of glory.”Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

Ribald and wry, concerned at heart with faith and forgiveness, Vestments is a rich, involving debut.”
Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster

In this memorable, skillful novel, Reimringer writes compassionately about the tie between violence and yearning, the calls of the body and the calls of the spirit. Many writers can write well about one or the other. The gift of this writer is his rich understanding and love of both. Vestments is a wise, wide, and eloquent book.”Erin McGraw, author of Lies of the Saints

Deeply rooted in history, burning with family furies, and told by a narrator-priest you find yourself rooting for (and wondering about), this is a captivating novel, scene by scene.”
Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter

A stunning debutcompelling, sharp, and rich with layers of history, family, religion, love, and everything that can wedge itself between.”ForeWord Reviews

A compelling tale that provides a little-seen, interior, first-person point of view of the priesthood.”Library Journal