Reviews & Interviews
“Amazing Grace: Reading Kelly J. Beard’s ‘An Imperfect Rapture“
Absolutism is a rhetoric of political convenience, a flashcard deck of judgments with Old Testament swiftness and certainty.
Blue collar, white collar, and the billionaire class. Urban and rural. Red state versus blue state. Fact and fable. Each term generates its own litany of forgivable and unforgivable sins. These absolutes efface our desire to understand—a yearning necessary for true intellectual growth and narrative, as Malcolm Heath notes in the introduction to his translation of Aristotle’s Poetics.
“This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”
Written with the spare, sensual, and deeply evocative prose of a master, this brave and ultimately transcendent memoir is an absolute gem. What Kelly J. Beard accomplishes here is stunning: by stepping nakedly back into her youth as the daughter of Christian fundamentalists, a life-long couple whose love for one another never seemed to wane, she also steps back into violence and neglect, poverty and the shame of the poor, the striving for one’s very selfhood when few seem to be able to help or pay much attention. And Beard renders all of this, and more, with a poet’s clear-eyed search for the truth. An Imperfect Rapture is a plaintive hymn of forgiveness, and it moved to tears many times over. This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”
~Andre Dubus III, author of Gone So Long and Dirty Love
“Some wounds leave marks.”
My mother saw demons,” begins Kelly J. Beard’s stunning debut memoir. Though I feared the narrator would show me the cruelty and violence of her parents’ chosen faith, she does so with such a commitment to understanding the sources of her family’s suffering that I had to follow her narrative.
Religious fundamentalism and poverty, the latter made worse by the former, fracture the narrator’s family into unrecoverable pieces. Only her parents appear unscathed by the “steel belt” of their faith. They remain devoted to each other, their intimate and loving relationship a stark contrast to the isolation of their children.”
’s Nonfiction Blog ReviewBREVITY
“Demons and angels—as imagined, with real consequences…”
“Demons and angels—as imagined, with real consequences for those who imagine them—each make cameos in this memoir, fittingly paired, the heavenly and the hellish, because what keeps this memoir from being yet another trite addition to the genre of former fundamentalists musing on the empowerment experienced through exposure to the wider world of ideas (in this case, Greek tragedies discussed late night at Denny’s) is Beard’s attention to the peculiar dynamic of gratitude at the heart of the Foursquare Pentecostalism in which she was raised.” Read Full Review
“…insightful, courageous book”
I am deeply shaken and moved by Kelly Beard’s conscientious, harrowing, and psychologically acute memoir of her childhood and youth. She evokes the confusing, abusive, fundamentalist world of her impoverished family with an eerie precision and clarity. An Imperfect Rapture is an insightful, courageous book.
Music and Silence: A Conversation with Kelly Beard
Kristina Marie Darling: Your book, An Imperfect Rapture, was recently launched by Zone 3 Press as winner of their Nonfiction Award. Tell us more about your journey to publication. What advice do you have for emerging nonfiction writers who are sending their work out, whether it’s a book project or a journal submission?
Kelly J. Beard: Thanks for asking that question, Kristina. As you might suspect, it’s the one I hear most from writers who haven’t yet found their venues. No doubt it’s the one I asked most often before winning the Zone 3 Award. I always felt a little let down with the answers I received, and I hope that isn’t the case with your readers, but in truth, the journey to publication felt a bit like searching for the holy grail. But here’s what I did: after hiring (this isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it) a professional editor to give my “final” manuscript a holistic review. It bears noting that I’d been working on the manuscript for at least 5-6 years, and it had been critiqued previously in whole or part by multiple advisors during the MFA process. Not to digress too far, but it also bears noting that finding a good editor can be its own leg of the journey. My advice on that aspect of it is to (after researching the editor and her work) ask for a free or reduced charge consult on 5-6 pages. That seems to me to be the safest way to get an editor you can trust, meaning an editor who understands your vision of the work and offers you advice you find relevant and helpful.
Once I had that (edited) final in hand and felt ready to send the manuscript out, I started out with a bit of a scattershot approach, querying agents and small or independent presses listed in the Writer’s Market. Read Full Interview