The Face of God
by Brian Ray Brewer
Goldtouch Press

"But there was something else to those bronzes: although they were ugly and malformed, they showed something more—a tremendous raw talent. Only a genius could have sculpted them."

What does God look like? In this novel, sculptor Martin Drake hasn't had any reason to wonder until a billionaire commissions him to sculpt the face of God for an orphanage and school in Brazil. A New York artist, Martin has grown cynical over years of wining and dining with rich people who buy the art he conceives but doesn't make himself. Father Manoel, the priest in charge of the creche in Brazil, helps Martin face the situation he's made for himself and inspires him to create once again.

Mutual confessions by Martin and Manoel drive the narrative. Secondary characters serve as foils for the main characters' development. Flippant and deceitful conversations in galleries and fancy dwellings at the beginning of the book set up well the more honest ones to come between Martin and Manoel. Over the work sessions in Martin's studio, the two men explain their work to one another. Luscious sentences describing Martin's art mirror the intricate bronze casting process he uses and bring the depictions to life. Manoel's tragic stories of the Amazon tribes convey Brazil's political strife poignantly. In addition to these mini-lessons in art and history, the two men brainstorm ideas together. As their trust and respect for one another builds, they reveal their secrets. Filled with depth and heartfelt words, their monologues are admirable and stimulating.

The face of God sculpture has many iterations, as Martin reworks it until he is satisfied. This metaphor for how people change through their work and relationships is convincing. In the end, the sculpture encapsulates Martin's transformation and posits an intriguing incarnational theology.

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