The Calvin Becker Trilogy
Calvin is the son of a missionary family, and their trip to Portofino is the highlight of his year. But even in the seductive Italian summer, the Beckers can't really relax. Calvin's father could slip into a Bad Mood and start hurling potted plants at any time. His mother has an embarrassing habit of trying to convert "pagans" on the beach. And his sister Janet has a ski sweater and a miniature Bible in her luggage, just in case the Russians invade and send them to Siberia. His dad says everything is part of God's plan. But this summer, Calvin has some plans of his own ... Portofino is the prequel to the noted trilogy that includes Zermatt. A huge bestseller, Portofino has been translated into seven languages. Find Portofino on Amazon.
It is 1966, and Ralph and Elsa Becker, Reformed Presbyterian missionaries from Kansas, are stationed in Switzerland, and on a modest ski vacation with their three children: tyrannical eighteen-year-old Janet, angelic Rachael, and our narrator, the irrepressible Calvin, who puzzles over his sisters' bras, as they hang on a line hidden away "so that I could not get a good look unless I ducked under the sheets ... to the feminine heart of the laundry maze." But at the Hotel Riffelberg, high above Zermatt, Calvin falls into the hands of a waitress who, while bringing him his breakfast each morning, serially initiates him into ecstasies he can barely comprehend. The resulting family crisis triggers a larger crisis of faith in his fundamentalist father, leading to a climax, which rips Calvin out of his childhood. With echoes of Irving and Roth and its own uniquely human voice, Zermatt is a coming-of-age gem. Find Zermatt on Amazon.
Calvin Becker's family have survived and persisted as Bible-thumping missionaries; it's their duty to spread the Word to everyone they meet. But now, having weathered a crisis precipitated by the godless Swiss, they face an even greater spiritual challenge right in their own home: Grandma. Foulmouthed, foul-tempered, and heathen through and through, she's staying in the spare room, recuperating from a broken hip—and making it next to impossible for the Beckers to do the Lord's work. Calvin's pious mom is determined to save Grandma's soul, even if she's doing it through gritted teeth and deadly measures. His father's spending more and more time in his room, blasting opera to drown out the old lady's voice. And Calvin wishes things would just get back to normal so they can go on vacation and he can get close to the girl he loves. But then Calvin starts to understand Grandma a little better and appreciate her a little more. After all, misery loves company. Find Saving Grandma on Amazon.
Other Fiction by Frank Schaeffer
And God Said "Billy!"
"Billy!" is a darkly comic coming-of-age story written by the master story teller that House of Sand and Fog author Andre Dubus III hailed as the funniest American writer since Mark Twain. The story is set in the 1980s and is about Billy, a young fundamentalist Christian who feels called to go to Hollywood to make "God's movie." But everything goes off the rails when he accepts a job to direct a soft-porn slasher/exploitation film in apartheid-era South Africa. He makes this "It's a deal not a movie" picture even though he has to bust the US entertainment industry's anti-apartheid sanctions in hopes his "worldly movie" will be "used by God" as a "stepping stone" to making his own divinely sanctioned "End Times" picture. In the process Billy loses his fundamentalist faith, his film career, his family and more. Find And God Said, "Billy!" on Amazon.
“I love this novel. And God Said "Billy!" is laugh-out loud funny from page one. It’s downright insightful throughout and takes readers deep into the shallow psyche of a sincere Charismatic-Evangelical whose God fails him. That failure turns out, through a hilarious series of tragic-comic reversals, to be – let’s just say something close to miraculous.”
— Brian D. McLaren
“It is one thing to suggest, in a literary way, what an authentic spiritual seeker should be wary of and free from. It is quite another thing to articulate, in a convincing and persuasive manner, to a generation of skeptics and new atheists, why the spiritual quest is worth the doing.”
— Ron Dart Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religious Studies at University of the Fraser Valley BC
“And God Said, "Billy!" is honest, very funny and
very serious. It’s sure to rankle those who believe that
being human means being certain.”
— Kevin Miller director of Hellbound?
Todd Ogden, an acclaimed painter with work in museums around the world and a seemingly successful thirty-year marriage to the Brahmin Sarah, is living and painting in his two-hundred-year-old Massachusetts farmhouse when his youngest child, Jack, chooses the Marines over college. Feeling puzzled and ultimately infuriated by his son's incomprehensible switch to "the other side," a situation only further aggravated by his disapproval of Jack's girlfriend Jessica, Todd ultimately turns his back on his son. Not long after the start of Gulf War II, Jack is deployed to Iraq and killed a week later, trying to end off an ambush. From this point on, Baby Jack tells the story of the family Jack leaves behind, of his parents trying to survive as their marriage shatters, of Todd's own breakdown and after-the-fact attempt to understand his son's life — and of Jessica's perseverance and the baby to whom she gives birth after Jack's death. Baby Jack is a powerful and moving human story of sacrifice and redemption, which takes its readers into a territory way beyond the everyday. Find Baby Jack on Amazon.