‘The Five Wounds’ by Kirstin Valdez Quade: No Such Thing as Sacred Performance

by CJ Green

Amadeo Padilla is preparing for his starring role as Jesus in a Good Friday procession when his estranged 15-year-old daughter, Angel, shows up on his doorstep—eight months pregnant. So begins Kirstin Valdez Quade’s exceptional first novel, The Five Wounds (416 pages; Norton), which she arranges in three sections according to the Church calendar: “Holy Week,” “Ordinary Time,” and “Lent.” We begin in Holy Week, with Amadeo, adrift. He and his daughter have been estranged, and we learn that for weeks at a time, he has forgotten that he has a daughter at all. He is in his thirties, unemployed, lives […]

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Three Windows Onto Rome

by Kirstin Valdez Quade

Santi Quattro Coronoti On the right wall of the basilica is a fragment of a fresco of San Bartolomeo. He’s a bearded old man, mouth obscured by damage, his eyes suspicious. His own wrinkled pelt is thrown over his shoulder like a traveling cloak. No longer the cheerful dandy, dressed in white with swinging purple tassels. (He took good care of that white tunic; for twenty years, across all those distances, it never showed signs of wear.) No, there on that wall, he lives immortal as he died: flayed bare. The son of the one who holds the waters on

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