Born in 1952, Frank Schaeffer is a writer and film director whose parents were missionaries, who has lived in Switzerland and has holidayed on the Italian Riviera. He now lives in Massachusetts. Portofino was his first novel.
We were first introduced to the young Calvin Becker on holiday in Italy in Portofino where lust and longing clashed with his religious upbringing in one of the most delightful novels Iâd read for a long time. Iâve had to wait eight years for the boy to reappear only a couple of years older and on holiday again. His family seem more zealously religious than ever and Calvin, bless him, more lusty, but still innocent at 14. Donât read this if you are a little pious as the church does come in for a bit of a bashing but do read it if you want a perfect gem of a rites-of-passage comedy. I truly loved it.Comparison: John Harding, Nick Hornby, David Nicholls.Similar this month: Matt Beaumont, Jim Keeble.
Calvin Becker's strict fundamentalist upbringing means he's never seen a film, watched television or danced. He even has to hide his five second-hand copies of Mad magazine in the attic. Now he and his family - his embarrassingly devout missionary parents and his sisters, the tyrannical 18 year-old Janet and the angelic Rachael - are on their modest annual skiing holiday in Switzerland. For the Beckers, the Hotel Riffelberg had always provided a safe haven from the jazz-loving sinners who congregate further down the mountain in Zermatt, but this is 1966, the year of peace, love and the Beatles, and the world is changing. As is the irrepressible Calvin... In his innocent 14 year-old body the hormones are raging, awakening a volcanic sexual curiosity and he willingly succumbs to the ample charms of Eva, the young waitress who introduces him to ecstasies beyond his wildest dreams. But then Calvin's mother catches him supposedly in the act and things start to go awry, triggering a climactic end to his childhood (and the family holiday).
Frank Schaeffer has a problem with the New Atheists. He also has a problem with the religious fundamentalists. The problem is that he doesn't see much of a difference between the two camps. Sparing no one and nothing, including himself and his fiery evangelical past, and invoking subtleties too easily ignored by the pontificators, Schaeffer adds much-needed nuance to the existing religious conversation as he challenges atheists and fundamentalists alike.
Frank Schaeffer has a problem with Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, and the rest of the New Atheiststhe self-anointed Brights. He also has a problem with the Rick Warrens and Tim LaHayes of the world. The problem is that he doesnt see much of a difference between the two camps. As Schaeffer puts it, they often share the same fallacy: truth claims that reek of false certainties. I believe that there is an alternative that actually matches the way life is lived rather than how we usually talk about belief.Sparing no one and nothing, including himself and his fiery evangelical past, and invoking subtleties too easily ignored by the pontificators, Schaeffer adds much-needed nuance to the conversation. My writing has smoked out so many individuals who seem to be thinking about the same questions. I hope that this book will provide a meeting place for us, the scattered refugees of what Ill call The Church of Hopeful Uncertainty.
By the time he was nineteen, Frank Schaeffers parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer, had achieved global fame as bestselling evangelical authors and speakers, and Frank had joined his father on the evangelical circuit. He would go on to speak before thousands in arenas around America, publish his own evangelical bestseller, and work with such figures as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson. But all the while Schaeffer felt increasingly alienated, precipitating a crisis of faith that would ultimately lead to his departureeven if it meant losing everything.With honesty, empathy, and humor, Schaeffer delivers a brave and important book (Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog)both a fascinating insiders look at the American evangelical movement and a deeply affecting personal odyssey of faith.
In this sequel to his acclaimed novel Portofino, Frank Schaeffer's memorable young narrator, Calvin Becker, returns in a story that is a coming-of-age gem. It is 1966, and Calvin is fourteen, torn between his naturally volcanic sexual curiosity and a fundamentalist family so strict that he has never seen a movie, watched television, or danced-and has to hide his five copies of Mad magazine in the attic. Ralph and Elsa Becker, Reformed Presbyterian missionaries from Kansas, are stationed in Switzerland and on a modest ski vacation with their three children: tyrannical eighteen-year-old Janet, angelic Rachael, and the irrepressible Calvin. But at the Hotel Riffelberg, a supposed safe haven from the sinners listening to jazz far below in Zermatt, Calvin nevertheless falls into the hands of Eva, a young waitress who, while bringing him breakfast each morning, begins Calvin's initiation. Even so, it is only after his mother catches him in the act (or so she thinks) that Calvin's real education begins. The resulting family meltdown builds to a climax destined to push Calvin's childhood into the past.