Archive | March, 2014

WIPs Conversation: Cal Freeman on His Work in Progress

Cal FreemanCal Freeman was born and raised in West Detroit. He holds a BA in literature from University of Detroit Mercy and an MFA from Bowling Green State University. His writing has appeared in many journals including Commonweal, The Journal, Nimrod, Drunken Boat, Ninth Letter, and The Paris-American. He currently lives in Dearborn, MI and teaches at Oakland University.

Cal, in this excerpt Pastor Timothy Eigen finds himself compromised in his position as spiritual advisor and marriage counselor by his feelings for Paula and ability to dismiss Jerry for someone who “loves her for her prettiness though and has no notion of her beauty. An old story dating back to David and before.” By the end of this chapter things it appears are going to get rather tricky, and could affect Eigen’s life in many ways, including the relationship he has with his congregation. Does this dilemma continue on as the crux of the novel?

In a sense, yes, though Eigen manipulates the situation in order to get what he thinks he wants. He and Paula fall in love and she leaves her husband, which is what, at this point, she is leaning toward anyway. The tragedy is that every choice she and Eigen could conceivably make is untenable. The psychic consequences of this kind of thing make the pastor’s descent into an early senescence merciful.

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Cal Freeman: An Excerpt from Tractors, a Novel in Progress


Eigen sat in his gliding rocker near the big bay window of the farm. If it weren’t for the denuded trees, the light would make you think it was summer. He had told himself when he first moved here that he’d do something with the fields. Some beans and cabbage maybe. But leading the congregation combined with the piano lessons had proven too much. Fallow fields. The furrows where the plow had once turned up and divotted the earth were indistinct, shambolic clay without apparent form. Straight lines become a diaspora of muck.

He read a new verse translation of The Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell. He had been using Job’s story more and more in his sermons the last couple years, and he supposed this made sense in light of his divorce. “Man born of woman, few of years and full of trouble,” and so on. It was his job to warn them. This congregation especially with their two-car garage, two-income households. It is important to live within this mystery. Are the blessings of this world blessing us? If the creature comforts leave us, if love flees us, will we maintain faith? Will we curse God? Is untested faith faith? He would ask them.

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