Reviews of Imprudent Zeal
Clayton is an artist, writer, husband and father. He is
also a refugee from chain bookstore management and
“little” magazines. This book is the great circus train
wreck that was America from the 1950s to the 1990s. It
moves not only in time, but also in space, from the Deep
South to New York City and Seattle. This landscape is
populated by artists, art gallery owners, possible saints
and a prostitute redeemed by the love of a good man. Now
there’s a bit of gender role reversal. Characters are
straight, gay and bisexual. Sex, drugs and the last taboo,
creativity loom large in the tale. If this book had a
soundtrack, it would be rock and roll played on a
In the 1960s, artist Lane Felts flees
the South to New York City after being jilted by his lover
Palmer Jackson. He falls under the spell of Scully
McDonald, a failed seminarian who runs Everything for
Everybody, a grassroots organization that houses the
homeless and feeds the hungry. Scully launches prostitute
Becca McDonald in a direction that leads to redemption.
McKenzie, Becca’s daughter, becomes a successful gallery
owner in Seattle. While searching for her father Scully,
she represents both Palmer and Lane. More coincidences
than a Dickens novel, but smoother and more believable.
The characters are complex
emotionally and have depth. I enjoyed Alec Clayton’s
second novel as much as the first (Until the Dawn) and
look forward to his third. A tour de force of
- Lew Hamburg
Olympian, February 20, 2005
From the idealistic would-be priest who gets tossed out of
the seminary for "imprudent zeal" to the "wrong side of
the tracks" musician and artist from Mississippi to the
hooker's daughter in Seattle still looking for her daddy,
Imprudent Zeal is filled with wide-ranging characters and
the colorful specifics of their lives.
storyline felt comfortable and kept me smiling and
watching expectantly to see where these peoples' lives
would finally intertwine.
Alec has a nice feel for
place and time. I could feel the suffocating heat in
Mississippi and the bone chilling rain of a lonely man at
a train station on Long Island New York. I also loved
learning more about the art of painting.
If I had
any criticism, it's that I wish he'd slow down the pace a
bit and really plunge us farther into each individual
person's heart. I felt sometimes that the narrative became
a little too much of, "They went here. They went there.
They went to another place" and occasionally I got the
feeling I was still in the introduction, waiting for the
story to begin.
Eventually, though, his compassion
for these wayward souls comes through and the book slowly
and finally drew me in to the point that it surprisingly
became a page turner. I was racing to get to the end to
find out how it would all turn out.
part of the story takes place in New York at a kind of "do
it yourself" community center called "Everything For
Everybody" run by the exiled would-be priest. Those scenes
throb with reality and color, and the mix of characters
felt bone real since it's based upon a real place. Worth
the price of admission alone.
Alec has constructed
a lovely book filled with warm, well-meaning people all
trying to find a place in a world that makes little sense
to them. I do recommend it. - Steve Schalchlin
(Los Angeles, CA),
a great story that will take you right back to the 1960s.
The characters are wonderfully created as they live the
dreams, freedoms and angst of the era while crisscrossing
among each other all the way from Mississippi to New York
City and Seattle, on up to near-contemporary events. In
particular, the character named Scully became compelling
(and lovable) to me with his colorful past which builds to
a unique approach and unwavering dedication when
administering to the underserved and homeless.
really liked this book. - John Arthur