Reviews By Prominent Authors & Critics

“I like this novel. It’s relentlessly true to life and about life, painfully wise in its way, and its special frisson, the almost inescapable Puritanism in the American character, finally emerges in a quiet space. (Matthew’s father’s) ‘something eternal in everyone’ is in fact the original Gnostic Christianity where all is One, even though such sweetness and light doesn’t have much chance when everyone is trying to fit into hell... There’s an American allegory in the story of Matthew. Like the first Puritans, he puts his faith in the singular individual’s relationship to God, and at the same time he’s like a colonial, obedient to the unseparated church and state, and giving it his earnings. Then, gradually, he is drawn to see some sacredness in Nature—an Emerson phase?—even though he makes his money by exploiting natural resources. Finally he is exactly like the Americans since the 1960s, narcissistic and materialistic... Elaine is only one aspect of Matthew’s world, imperious to be sure, and representative of our national self-righteous ‘exceptionalism’—still, herself, a mere tool of murderous confidence-men.”

— Alexander Blackburn Prof. emeritus of the Univ. of Colorado, founder of The Writer’s Forum and author of many fine works of fiction and criticism (including a study of Frank Waters).


By Jeff Putnam

In Dallas Texas, in the mid-eighties, a sixteen year old boy named Matthew becomes the follower of a woman twice his age, Elaine, who styles herself a “prophet” —the human manifestation of God’s will. She is beautiful, talented and the mother of a nine-year-old child who has become a ward of the state because of her inability to provide for him.

By means of his skill trimming trees Matthew is able to feed Elaine and ease some of her burdens, though in so doing he repeatedly breaks the law. Elaine seems not to care as long as the money keeps coming. Taking it, she always thanks God instead of Matthew. In his turn Matthew is certain that God is helping him find work and is responsible for the large sums he is being paid to do it.

Meanwhile, Matthew’s parents, after years of being unable to deal with their son’s deterioration with any strategy of their own, are reaching out to a priest, a psychiatric social workers and finally to the famous Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade to undermine Matthew’s destructive relationship, only to find that Elaine in her turn is being manipulated by a powerful evangelical who has long been taking advantage of troubled children.

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Other Novels By This Author


About the author

Born in New York and educated mostly in New England and California, Jeff Putnam traveled extensively throughout his life, working professionally as a singer, with periods of settlement in France and Spain. In Europe he sang in opera houses and was successful busking in cafes and on the streets. After a trip to Dallas, Texas, to be with two children of his second wife he met Jane Howle, also a writer, and married her. Ms. Howle saw promise in four books (among many) that Putnam had written about his life, and published them under a new imprint called Baskerville Publishers (after a family name) which went on to publish more than fifty books by promising or neglected authors like her new husband. Putnam worked for her as editor-in-chief under a different name (Samuel Chase) throughout the 90s. Health issues forced the sale of Baskerville to a Fort Worth businessman but when Putnam recovered he continued to run it from 2000 to 2004, and then began publishing with his own imprint (Avenue Publishers). From 2003 the couple have dwelt off and on in Canada, where Putnam has sung with Opera New Brunswick and given concerts in New Brunswick and Maine (in 2003 he was Colline in a production of La Bohème by Maine Grand Opera; in 2007 he had a part in an Opera New Brunswick performance of La Traviata). He and his wife now reside in Dallas close by their son Samuel and Christian, a son by another marriage. Putnam has daughters in Florida and Belgium. His Belgian daughter, Justine, ran a restaurant for some years in Antwerp and now runs a company that translates and edits books for Belgian authors. Jeff and Jane are now contemplating retirement in West Texas after Jane has built her dream house there of hemp-lime construction (see Abner DDAY).