THE BOOK OF BEBB (1979)
The Book of Bebb is Pulitzer Prize finalist Frederick Buechner's quartet of outrageously witty, inspirational Bebb novels combined into in one volume. These four novels (Lion Country, Open Heart, Love Feast, and Treasure Hunt) represented a new phase of Buechner's writing. While Buechner had previously written fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, the Bebb novels "were racy and fun and colorful things happen in them" as Buechner would say.
Furthermore, Buechner afterwards expressed in Now and Then how much fun the Bebb books were for him to write: "For the first time I felt free to be funny in ways that I hadn't felt comfortable being in print before, to let some of my saltier-tongued characters use language that before had struck me as less than seemly in a serious work of fiction, to wander off into quirkish reminiscences and observations that weren't always directly related to my central purpose. There was all of that to help make my writer's task an excitement and a delight instead of a burden to labor under...but there was also something more than just that, and what is was, supremely and without any question, was Bebb himself. When I reached the final page of Lion Country, I tried my hand at a few other things, but it wasn't long before I started a second novel about him called Open Heart, and then Love Feast, and then Treasure Hunt, none of them ever quite the joy-rides that Lion Country has been but all of them written because I couldn't help myself, because I missed Bebb too much to let him go, or because—whatever it may mean to say so—Bebb would not let me go."
“Some of the most masterly comic prose being written in America…Buechner brings the reader to his knees, sometimes in laughter, sometimes in an astonishment very close to prayer, and at the best of times in a combination of both.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“The way Buechner writes is special and engaging—serious, comic, with a kind of reverent irreverence for his people and their lives.”
— Publishers Weekly
“In the character of Leo Bebb, Buechner has created a wild and canny charlatan who might also be a genius.”
— The Boston Globe