Foy: On the Road to Lost

  Genre: Literary Fiction
Date of Publication: March 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 194


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Gordon Atkinson, of the popular blog RealLivePreacher, brings us Foy, a recently- divorced, recently-resigned pastor in the midst of redefining personal meaning. As Foy travels to New Orleans, hoping to find a new identity separate from the church, he keenly observes the everyday, rendering ordinary moments unexpectedly significant. Atkinson’s own background as a preacher and blogger inspires Foy’s confessional voice, the voice which characterizes this story about how our own experiences impact the universal search for meaning. 



“If the magnitude of difference between the stars and humankind is the purest of religions, reminding us of our insignificance (so thinks Foy), then that magnitude is collapsed in the hands of Atkinson, whose words elevate the most insignificant of objects, acts, and characters to startling heights. A key shifted on a desk, a communion cup offered to an old woman despite a philosophical mismatch, a baby’s bottle first ignored and then retrieved for a frazzled stranger on a bus. Each commands, each arrests, each persists. And we suddenly remember that what we create with mere words can be as lasting as the luminaries.”
— L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, twice named a best book of 2011

“Few writers can match Gordon Atkinson’s ability to tell stories about the sacred in our everyday lives. Foy is a work of power, beauty, and clarity–I saw myself and the world more clearly after reading it. I think you will too.”

— Greg Garrett, author of The Prodigal and Entertaining Judgment

“I really, really like Gordon Atkinson’s Foy. I like the character Foy himself. He’s Everyman and he’s me and he’s Gordon, all at the same time. Nice trick. I like Gordon’s writing — straightforward, but with a simple elegance. But what I really like is the no-holds-barred honesty. This feels real because it is real. Foy at his worst, Foy at his best, Foy at his most wonderful/awful. It’s an on-going series, just like life. I look forward to the next chapter.”
— Robert F. Darden, author of Nothing but Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City

Foy Davis, son of a Baptist minister, was born into a world that left little room for nonbelievers, doubters, or dissenters, and as Foy would learn to his surprise a few decades later, he had a little of each of these characteristics in him. But a minister does not just walk away from the responsibilities of a church and a congregation. Life is never that simple.

Gordon Atkinson has been writing short stories about the fictional Foy Davis since 2004 when he published the first one of them online. According to Atkinson, there are now forty-one Foy Davis stories, including even the one about Foy’s eventual death. Atkinson has chosen twenty-five of those stories and arranged them here in chronological order for what he calls “the composite novel” Foy: On the Road to Lost. Keeping in mind that each of the novel’s chapters were originally meant to be read as standalones over a period of years, I cannot imagine how reading them that way could possibly match the emotional punch that comes from reading them here as one, longer story of a man’s entire life. Transforming the stories into a novel this way is a brilliant idea that gives them new life – and Atkinson plans to bring out the second volume of Foy’s story sometime in 2017.

Foy Davis was born in Fort Davis, the small West Texas town at the foot of the Davis mountains where is father five years earlier had moved the family to accept a job as associate pastor of a Baptist church. As a PK (preacher’s kid), Foy recognized early on that he had a defined roll to play in Fort Davis social life and he fully embraced his responsibilities – even once trying to save the soul of a fellow third-grader by helping him recite the “sinner’s prayer” behind a shed they passed on their way to school.

Foy continued to do what was expected of him (and, more importantly what he expected of himself) as he followed his father’s footsteps into the ministry and a church of his own in San Antonio. But Foy’s approach to life and the ministry was, even then, a little bit outside the norm because Foy at times struggled with religious doubts of his own, and was even known to admit his personal struggle to those whom he counseled in his office.

For Foy Davis, life is about living as a Christian should live, showing kindness and understanding to everyone he encounters regardless of faith, sexual orientation, or personal failings. He believes in respecting everyone until they prove they do not deserve his respect. Most importantly, he feels that a belief in God is not necessary in order for one to live a good life – and he more admires those who live such a life out of personal choice than out of fear of the wrath of a vengeful God.

The twenty-five stories (covering the years 1961-2011) used in Foy: On the Road to Lost take Foy Davis on quite a journey, one in which he is still trying to figure out exactly who he is. My only (for lack of a better word) complaint about the book is that it was over all too quickly. I found myself liking Foy more and more, and then he was gone. I miss him and I want to hear more from him, so I’m looking forward to Atkinson’s “volume two” of the Foy Davis story. Stay tuned.

Atkinson is the author of the books (Wm. B. Eerdmans), Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You’ve Never Heard.  He was a contributor for the magazine Christian Century and founding editor for the High Calling website, which brought together hundreds of independent writers and featured their work. 
His writing career started on Salon where he was among the most read bloggers on the site.  One of his essays was chosen to be included in The Best Christian Writing 2004 (Jossey-Bass) and his book won the Independent Publisher Book Award in the creative non-fiction category.


Grand Prize: Signed Copies of Foy: On the Road to Lost, Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You Never Heard
2nd Prize: Signed Copy of Foy: On the Road to Lost

3rd Prize: Signed Copy of
March 1 – 15, 2017

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