Home > memoir, non-fiction > The Modern Confessions Of St August Stine: August Stine

The Modern Confessions Of St August Stine: August Stine

May 19, 2011

The True Story …

of a renegade minister and his controversial journey through depression and religion. This unique story details emotional breakthroughs that will make you laugh and cry. The author has chosen to remain anonymous; thus he uses the pen name — August Stine

If you are down, this will lift you up

If you are up, this will inspire you

If you are in-between, this will stimulate you

psychology/self-help/religion/spirituality

Rated PG! Oh Gee! & My Goodness!

I can’t say I much enjoyed The Modern Confessions of Saint August Stine: it contains all the usual subjects—two hyphens are routinely used where em-dashes are required, there are a few oddly-placed ellipses, and far too many jumbled paragraphs; but I’m afraid that the big problem with this book lies in its author’s writing style.

Mr. Stine writes in very short sentences, and he tells the reader everything that happens and almost never shows; and this brisk, expositional style results in a text with almost no emotional depth despite its troubling subject matter of divorce, emotional breakdown, and loss of faith.

What this means, of course, is that the reader is hard-pushed to empathise with the story before her, or with the characters which appear, and without empathy reading is very unsatisfying. We need to be emotionally involved in a book to enjoy it and I’m afraid that this book left me feeling completely disinterested.

How to fix it? Editing won’t be enough. The writer has to slow down, and take more risks with his writing. He needs to explore things more, reveal more of himself, and show us events unfolding instead of telling us everything as quickly as he can. He clearly has a story to tell: but at the moment his rush to tell it prevents the reader from getting fully absorbed in it, and that’s a shame.

I read nine pages out of one hundred and eighty three and felt exhausted by them. I’m afraid I cannot recommend this book.

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  1. cat
    May 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

    The title irritates me.

  2. May 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Punctuation question: In plain text format in Word, I use two hyphens to represent a dash (and I always thought this was kosher). I much prefer the look of the em dash, but the em dash doesn’t always translate from Word to other formats (e.g. if submitting an online form where lots of text is required and you copy your text from Word to the form, the em dashes usually don’t “take”). Same thing here on this comment box — I have no way to create an em dash (unless I know HTML), so I use the two hyphens.

    Are you saying two hyphens are incorrect and don’t represent a dash, or are you simply saying you expect to see em dashes in published books (I agree with the latter for sure)? Just curious.

    Recently found your blog and love it!

  3. May 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I did my Masters degree on Augustine (in comparison with Gregory of Nyssa), so I would give a glance to the first few pages. I’d sort of expect a 1066 and all that from the title, though, not a book as serious in intent as this sounds. And it sort of bothers me that the author isn’t August Stein not Stine. I’d still give it a browse though

  4. May 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Good writing advice to the author, Jane. But considering the number of places this instruction can be found, it is amazing that it need be given yet again, in this case after a cover had already been wrapped around 183 pages of plain drudgery. Your persistence in the face of this sort of writing is awe-inspiring. What is your reward?

  5. May 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I tend to avoid works in which the author names him/herself a saint.

  6. May 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I suck at punctuation (especially comma-use) which is why I hired a proofreader who fixed all that for me.

    BTW, I still have my fingers crossed that you’ll find something you like soon!

  7. May 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks Jane,
    As the author, I am pleased even for the negative comments. Thanks for this review. I did not expect the book to be warmly received because it is certainly controversial. Thanks for taking the time to look it over. I do wish you had covered more than 9 pages, but you did what you said you would do. I have recently come out with a 2nd edition which is 100% browse-able. It should be out as an e=book shortly. I have cut and revised and hopefully made it better. It is the best I can do at this point. We (the book and myself) are still a work in progress.

    Sincerely,

    August Stine

  8. Jane Smith
    May 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Robyn, it’s fine to use a double hyphen in place of a dash in your manuscripts; some publishers much prefer you to do this as using an em- or en-dash can drop odd bits of code into your work which might not reappear until it’s been typeset, and could result in expensive corrections being required. But if you’re publishing your work in any form, you have to ensure your book is typeset correctly–and that includes using dashes instead of double hyphens.

    Jim, I don’t expect reward from this blog: I wanted to get a feeling for the sorts of books which are self-published and this has allowed me to do so. I feel grateful that so many writers have trusted me enough to send me their work: it can’t be easy for them to receive such difficult criticism, and yet most of them do so with grace.

    August, thanks for commenting here. Just to make it perfectly clear: I didn’t stop reading your book because it was too controversial for me; I stopped because it was so clumsily written. I do hope your new edition has been completely re-written, and that you’ve improved your prose since publishing the first edition.

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