The Sacred Heart of Ruthie
My life’s mission has been to produce a shelf of books about the City of Baltimore and the compelling people who live there. As a fourth-generation Baltimorean – grandson of an immigrant shipyard worker, son of a harbor tugboat engineer and longtime street reporter in my own backyard --I count myself among those characters.
The Sacred Heart of Ruthie is my first novel.
Inspired by the Biblical Annunciation tale and set in Baltimore at the turn of the 21st-century, Ruthie is an extended work based on a short story of the same name published in my 2014 collection Tales from the Holy Land.
The structure of the novel – from an angel informing a 15-year-old Baltimore virgin that she will be impregnated by the Holy Spirit to the birth of Ruthie’s child nine months later - has been established along with all of the primary characters and locations.
The hook of the ancient tale’s re-telling: Instead of responding to the angel with obedience – “Let it be done to me according to your word,” in the book of Luke– Ruthie tells the angel to get lost.
As only a spoiled American teenager of privilege can, she says: “I can do whatever I like. I have free will.”
The rest of the book puts Ruthie’s belief to the test in a series of dramas (physical, emotional, spiritual) that take place from the old 10th ward near the Maryland Penitentiary to the skies above Patterson Park to industrial Curtis Bay.
At 58, having practiced my craft professionally in Baltimore since age 19, I am approaching full control of my instrument, the English language. I am committed to focusing my energies on the stories I was born to write, not assignments taken to make ends meet.