Writing the body

Jamie Quatro on how to write about sex and spirituality.

JAMIE QUATRO WRITES ABOUT God and sex. She’s published two books, I Want to Show You More (stories) and Fire Sermon (novel) to critical acclaim. Marriage, adultery and infidelity are running themes in her work. This is familiar territory for literary fiction, but it becomes startling and even frightening in Quatro’s hands as she examines these subjects through the lens of faith. She joins a long and proud tradition of fusing the religious and the erotic that extends all the way back to Augustine. But during her talk, she said that her work often elicits confusion from different audiences, and for different reasons. Generally, Christian readers are scandalized by the sexuality, and secular readers find all the guilt and anguish over adultery to be excessive. Quatro finds the latter responses amusing, for the most part. But for evangelical readers, she offered the suggestion that they start looking at Catholic aesthetics when it comes to representing the body in art and literature. She made the point that evangelicals often have difficulty learning from faith traditions that aren’t their own, and that the area of representing the body and the erotic is one area where the Catholic church, with its centuries of art and tradition, has much to offer.

  • Adam’s work has appeared in many venues, including the Paris Review Daily, Electric Literature and Real Life. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and two daughters.

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