Cover Image: Via Negativa

Via Negativa

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Member Reviews

Good read. Author spends too much time illustrating intellectual rigor, and less on narrative development. Overall, an important read.
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This was an interesting book, to say the least. Growing up Catholic, the plot of this book definitely intrigued me! I enjoyed this book. Great character building and very atmospheric. Enjoyed this one!
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Frankly, I found this uninvolving. The tropes seemed rehashed from half a century ago, and the road trip with a ne'er-do-well spiritual scoundrel has been done better by Walker Percy.
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Everything about this book's description intrigued me - Catholic priest on a road trip picks up a coyote and reflects on his years leading up to some hinted-at falling out with his diocese. Unfortunately, I was finished the novel bored and disappointed. The book started out on a high note, but I felt like Hornsby missed an opportunity for deeper reflection into moral questioning Catholicism inevitably evokes in our modern society. I loved the pit stops along the way, and thought the emotional "reveal" at the end worked, but Father Dan's ultimate destination was somehow both lackluster and random. The awkwardness of that final relationship undermined the emotional reveal right before it, and I was left thinking the book either needed more material about that last relationship sprinkled in beforehand, or that section could have just been left out.
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A short, but gripping novel about faith and its challenges, and also regret.
VIA NEGATIVA is a thought-provoking novel, as his protagonist goes on a journey and spends most to the book ruminating on his career in the church and what he has and has not done. Hornsby is an excellent writer, and the novel includes many superb descriptions and passages.
Recommended.
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3.5, rounded up. A rollicking and darkly comic American road trip, narrated by an elderly hippie Catholic priest traveling the backroads from Indiana to Seattle in a smelly old Camry, with an injured coyote in the back seat, a revolver in the glove compartment, and Prince's Purple Rain on endless repeat on the stereo. Generally steers clear of mawkishness and sentimentality, as Father Dan receives confessions from quirky ordinary people in dive bars, roadside attractions, churches, and animal control centers. In flashbacks, our protagonist wrestles with his own moral failure to stop a pedophile priest from preying upon his oldest friend from seminary, and the true meaning of revenge and regret. Worth checking out.

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this book. It was so tender and surprising, with the exact blend of funny/sad that always gets me. It is also written in BEAUTIFUL SENTENCES, my God! This is a novel with an unforgettable cast of eccentric characters, roadside attractions, and the lovable and terrible magic of rural life, with all its attendant miracles. At its center is a man who is so hard on himself that he feels he can never give enough to the people he loves, even though he is greatly uncomfortable receiving love or care himself. Like the coyote he picks up on the first page, he is wary of the cage—in his case, the confines of the Catholic church, with its deep pockets and predatory monsters. He wants to believe that this cause—to which he has devoted his entire life—still has the capacity to clothe and feed and nurture others, to put some good in the world. At the same time, he struggles to reconcile his crisis of faith with his rage and grief and guilt for being unable to save the people he loves from their pain. 5/5 stars, and I will read everything Hornsby writes. This is an amazing first book from a writer with exceptional vision and talent.
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Sometimes you like a book so much from the very first page that you read the whole thing with your breath held, hoping it doesn't stumble and disappoint you. Fortunately, <i>Via Negativa</i> retains its footing. Its plot is relatively simple: you're in the company of a retired priest named Father Dan, who's been kicked out of his rectory for being too liberal for church leaders (and also kind of a weirdo). Dan's living in his Toyota Camry, driving west on a mission deliberately ill-defined. On the first page -- the page where my breath initially caught and held -- he sees a coyote get sideswiped by a minivan, so you're soon also in the company of this injured animal, who Dan names Bede, as in the Venerable. Thus picture <i>On the Road</i>, but instead of Sal and Dean, it's a priest and a coyote. And also they're not assholes.

I just love Dan's voice so much. His (the author's) descriptions are vivid and edged by an understated, wry humor. So to go back to that first page once again: this coyote is struck by the van, and Dan says he "saw its big yellow eyes and tail flopping around as it skittered onto the gravel, rolling like a stuntman on fire." Vibrant! Singular! I love it! In general, there are just so many little descriptions of animals and nature I adore. Later, Bede is conked out on pain pills and Dan says, "Bede arched his back and pawed at ghosts." Why do I love that so much? I can just see it so perfectly.

Hornsby does right by his human characters as well. Like any good road trip novel, Father Dan stops at random places along his journey, encountering people in diners and bars. And maybe because of the collar, maybe because of something uniquely him, these people are prone to open up, even to confess. Dan has surreal, delightful conversations whether he's stopping to have a meal or visiting the World's Largest Ball of Paint. He learns people's secrets, even while the reader senses more and more that he's holding onto his own.

Essentially: this is the funniest novel I've ever read about regret. Like J. Alfred Prufrock, Dan is looking back at his life and realizing his sin is that of inaction. He didn't help his friends when he could have. He didn't prevent injustice in the church. He gave himself over to this institution, and it may have ultimately meant nothing. As he himself says in another one of my favorite passages: "I should have lit a fire under [my parishioners], steered them toward justice, holiness, and truth. We should have been stewards of our dying planet. We should have fed the hungry, visited those in prison, healed the sick. We should have taken better care of one another."

But he didn't.

Maybe I'm thinking a lot right now about all the ways we can be better to each other, but this resonated so deeply with me. This is in many ways a swift, easy read, but to me it packed a weight far beyond its page count. It was such bittersweet relief to finally release my breath along with the last line, because it was perfect. And now that I'd made it, I didn't want it to end.
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An unusual read. Daniel is a priest who has lost his flock and now is on a road trip to the West Coast.  In between Indiana and Seattle, he comes upon an injured coyote which he rescues and puts in his back seat.  The two of them then embark on an unusual road trip that is less about the physical journey than the people he meets.  There's some quite philosophical musings here, as can be expected, but it never gets so deep that you lose the thread of the plot.  What's with the pistol and the bullets?  No spoilers from me.  It's almost a coming of age novel except that Daniel's no kid- so it might better be termed a tale of personal stock taking.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  For fans of literary fiction.
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An excellent book, well written and fascinating. The author is a talented storyteller and the characters are fascinating.
It's story that kept me hooked, moved and made me smile.
One of the best debut in a long time.
Strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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What a beautifully written novel. I absolutely LOVED everything about "Via Negativa". It made me tear up a few times, and I love characters that are quirky and unfiltered. The story follows a retired priest who is living in his car and helps an injured coyote. I know, the story sounds ridiculous but it's not. There's more to the plot but I feel it's best to go into this novel blindly. There is some dark subject matter halfway through the book, but it's done with sensitivity. Father Dan was a wonderful protagonist. You can't help but root for him. He's a lost soul but he's a good person too. An underrated gem. Thank you, Knopf for the digital ARC.
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I recommend you read Via Negativa by Daniel Hornsby which is a first person story of a retired priest.  I was drawn to the book by the title and the cover art.  I loved the way the Bede the hurt coyote played a major part in the story.  Every person he meets during his cross country journey helps him reveal some more of the Father’s life. Some of the encounters reveal history.  Some of the stories touch much more on the theology of the Desert Fathers
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VIA NEGATIVA by @dan_hornsby is the best debut novel I've read so far in 2020. It's smart, funny, sad, and funny/sad. It's a road story about faith and connection as Father Dan, a retired priest, drives across the country while nursing a wounded coyote. It's so good.
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*Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing for the advance copy!!*

I've been reading so many ARCs through Net Galley lately and I would count this among the best. 

The synopsis of this book had me at “road trip.” Father Dan finds himself now homeless after being let go by his conservative Catholic Church without reassignment. He decides to drive out to Seattle, where former parishioners and friends of his now live, to start a new life. The book chronicles his journey from Indiana to Washington. Along the way he rescues a coyote and meets some colorful characters who, just like him, are figuring out what their next move will be. 

This book was as fun a read as the synopsis leads you to believe. There are elements of the Catholic Church discussed throughout the book, but you don’t need a foundation in Catholicism to follow along. The focus is on Dan’s journey and his relationships with people. It’s a great study of a flawed man who wants to do the right thing, but often finds himself too overwhelmed or inside his head to follow through and be the person they need and want him to be. 

Loved it!
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A travel log of a priest and his traveling companion of a coyote hit by a car. Interesting, although I didn't like his attitude towards Protestants. A little bias, all things considering. Easy to read, although I found his voice tiresome and could only read in short bursts. Unlike another reviewer, I could not read this all in one setting. Would still recommend though, especially if you are Catholic.
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I read this in one day- I guess you could say I really liked it :)
This is a new author to me and I was refreshed by his use of language. I thought the plot moved at such a nice, even pace and I definitely lost track of time because of it. I think anyone who likes something a bit unique and unputdownable would very much enjoy Via Negativa.
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