I first encountered Alfred Eaker’s work through his contemporary Catholic paintings. They undoubtedly set my expectations up for some sort of direct, colorful explosiveness in his writing from his debut novel, Brother Cobweb; a novel that he has worked on for over twenty-five years. Instead, I was blown away by a naked prose, devoid of superfluous ornamentation, that submerges the reader into the darkest of themes. Make no mistake, though; as a gifted artist, Eaker knows how to use boldness and tone to weave a claustrophobic, violent reality that will trap you in a cast almost exclusively populated by increasingly sinister characters from a Midwestern Pentecostal church. He masterfully portrays the spiritual disintegration of evangelical abusers in a way that will lead you to offer them heartfelt absolution and forgiveness. Sublimely, Eaker takes you where he needs you to be. As the horrors intensify, a ripping epiphany begins to unfold against the canvas of the story: what doesn’t lead to breaking the cycle of violence will only perpetuate it. And here’s where the real talent of his artistry shines as Eaker draws a very personal spirituality of individual liberation and redemption through responsibility, which includes accountability of across the board religious abuses-from Mormonism to Pentecostalism and Catholicism. He shows us how, even in the most horrendous physical and emotional situations, we can all tap into our inner self, and find within ourselves the means to stop spraying our poison onto others or punishing them for the pain we feel. His words contain such a direct and brutal message that it’s impossible to remain indifferent; you’ll feel the same raw energy and transforming power as a gaze from any of his painted portraits. Art at its best.
Novena News, Mada Jurado