June 3, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Turning echoes from the past into fictional tales

Recently, on a long, leisurely vacation drive, I read aloud to my husband, Paul, as I often do when we travel. I used two review books received shortly before departure: The Access and The Bennie. The difference between these and most others used for trips is that Paul and I know the author, R.R. Emmett, and his wife, Peggy, from our mutual involvement with the Catholic Marriage Encounter movement years ago. They are also fellow parishioners.

“Marriage Encounter was the event that changed my life,” said the author, who weaves what he learned about good relationships and communication into the tapestry of his fiction. Because of this and because his strong Catholic faith shines through, his books are appropriate for youth as well as adults. (Emmett has received complimentary validation from both.)

The most endearing thing is how Bob (as we know him) primarily dedicates his books to Peggy, identifying her as “my forever love.” Because of an illness, he is his wife’s caregiver in Indianapolis, where they reside near five of their eight living children.

Most interesting is how Bob’s fiction incorporates echoes from his own past. (As a former co-worker once told him: In a crisis, Bob doesn’t get hysterical; instead, he gets historical.) This keen sense of the past makes the tale about 14-year-old Bobby Ray Garrett in The Access credible. Left parentless in a small Indiana town, the young man runs away to Chicago to find answers about his heritage. In a week’s time, his life is jeopardized. He also experiences sexual awareness and finds new strengths while unraveling a deadly mystery.

The Bennie continues with the protagonist’s growing relationship with a young lady in the first book and his fast-track education in an Illinois Catholic boarding school. A frightful experience and mystery there creates strong bonds between Bobby, other students and members of the religious community.

My too-concise summaries don’t do the books justice, nor do they relay the plot twists and tensions that keep the reader interested. However, ultimate conclusions can’t be made until R.R. Emmett finishes a series of 26 books—an ongoing saga he plans. Each book title’s first word will be “The” and the second two-syllable word will follow the alphabet. His third book, The Concept, is nearly ready and the fourth will be The Darkness.

I hope that subsequent books also echo Bob’s life, including his 43-year career in banking, as well as his and Peggy’s experiences after founding “Beggars for the Poor” in 1987 to serve the poor and homeless in Indianapolis. (Later, this was turned over to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.)

R.R. Emmett’s first two books are found at www.AuthorHouse.com or can be ordered by calling 1-800-839-8640.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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