It’s complicated. For Fr. Jim, the frustrations of celibacy are about more than the lack of sex.

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Novel and Short Story finalist:

John Reimringer
Milkweed Editions
Category Sponsor: Anchor Trust


An excerpt from an interview with John Reimringer:

“Yes, I did a lot of research for Vestments. Some of it involved just driving around St. Paul, coming to know the city. But I also read histories of St. Paul, and I read a lot about priests, trying to get into their heads. A couple of books on the priesthood that contained a lot of the priests’ own words were particularly helpful. I learned that priests have the same problems any of us do with their jobs and their bosses and worrying whether they’re spending their lives in the right way and whether they’ll have enough money to retire (a real concern for anyone working for the Catholic Church). That really freed me as a writer.”

Torn between his first love, Betty Garcia, and the priesthood, James Dressler finds himself at a crossroads. Exploring age-old and yet urgently contemporary issues in the Catholic Church, and infused throughout by a rich sense of the history and vibrant texture of Saint Paul, this novel is honest and subtly lyrical.


John Reimringer is a former newspaper editor and a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Arkansas.


“In this potent debut about a wayward yet devout young priest who struggles to reconcile his faith with longings of the flesh, Reimringer has crafted a suspenseful, illuminating, and highly readable saga.” – Publishers Weekly, Starred review and Pick of the Week

“A stunning debut—compelling, sharp, and rich with layers of history, family, religion, love, and everything that can wedge itself between these. Set in Saint Paul, Minnesota, this novel makes the reader feel as though one has lived in this city all one’s life, and it boasts a cast of characters as unique and fully formed as the setting. This is human frailty thoroughly and beautifully rendered.” – ForeWord Reviews

“Deeply rooted in history, burning with family furies, and told by a narrator-priest you find yourself rooting for (and wondering about), this is a captivating novel, scene by scene.” – Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist’s Daughter

“A striking portrayal of Saint Paul and a man’s struggle to make sense of Catholic faith and family.” – MN Book Awards preliminary judge


Family, Faith, and Temptation: an interview on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning from December 27, 2010. Author John Reimringer’s new novel tells the story of a young priest and his struggle with the vow of celibacy. But beyond being a story about the sacred versus the profane, the author says it’s also a love letter to the city of St. Paul.

Largehearted Boy is a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture. In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book. Reimringer’s selection of songs by Springsteen, Cash, Dylan and Prine are accompanied by other songs by other artists that may surprise you.

Still want more?

Read an Excerpt from Vestments (pdf)


The Saint Paul Almanac featured a true family tale by Remringer in February of 2011, “Winter Carnival 1887: A Ghost Story”

John Reimringer: One-Hour Interview with Peter Shea for The Bat of Minerva » Watch the Interview Here


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Vestments? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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