CALLED OUT reads like a sequel of sorts to Harold Kushner’s WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE via A. G. Mojtabai’s two most recent books, the novel ORDINARY TIME and BLESSED ASSURANCE: AT HOME WITH THE BOMB IN AMARILLO, TEXAS. Often predictable and at times unpretentious to a fault, CALLED OUT proves nevertheless deeply moving in its portrayal of ordinary people struggling to do their human best in trying circumstances. Strangely reminiscent of both Raymond Carver’s short stories and Walker Percy’s Catholic existentialist novels, Mojtabai’s narrative deals with the crash of a passenger plane into a field in a Texas township a little too patly called Bounds. Mojtabai plays down the crash itself while playing up the reactions of a handful of townspeople: the local postmistress, a cocktail waitress, a ne’er-do- well who sneaks onto the crash site and tries to sneak off with a severed hand, a journalist who just happens to be passing by, a priest more than a little unsure of both his vocation and his effectiveness, and through them a number of lesser voices: police officers, disaster workers, the mayor, a local radio evangelist, a few survivors, and later a sampling of the victims’ friends and relatives who make the pilgrimage to Bounds.
The novel focuses first on the time just before the crash, then the immediate aftermath, and finally the subsequent fallout, moving back and forth between various first-person accounts. As a result, the...
(The entire section is 396 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Called Out Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!