The book Brother Cobweb is a coming-of-age saga with a misfit, paradoxical artist at its centre.

Alfred Eaker’s debut novel seeks to change perspectives through innovative language, dark humor and a look into a marginalised subculture.

A surreal and provocative odyssey, it is sure to strike a nerve as it exposes the abuses and hypocrisy of an all-too-familiar Midwestern evangelical church.

I sat down with Eaker and together we produced a fascinating interview that we will soon share with all of you.

But first, I would like to share my personal impressions and endorsement of this amazing book.

I first encountered Alfred Eaker’s work through his contemporary Catholic paintings. 

They undoubtedly set my expectations high for a direct, colorful explosiveness in his writing in Brother Cobweb, a book Eaker has worked on for over twenty-five years.

Instead, I was blown away by a naked prose, devoid of superfluous ornamentation, that submerges the reader into the darkest of themes. 

Make no mistake, though: as a gifted artist, Eaker knows how to use boldness and tone to weave a claustrophobic, violent reality that will trap you in a cast populated by increasingly sinister characters from a Midwestern Pentecostal church.

He masterfully portrays the spiritual disintegration of evangelical abusers in a way that will lead you to offer them heartfelt absolution and forgiveness.

Deftly, Eaker takes you where he needs you to be. As the horrors intensify, a ripping epiphany begins to unfold against the canvas of the story: what doesn’t lead to breaking the cycle of violence will only perpetuate it. 

And here’s where the real talent of Eaker’s artistry shines, as he sketches out a very personal spirituality of individual liberation and redemption through responsibility, which includes accountability of across-the-board religious abuses – from Mormonism to Pentecostalism and Catholicism.  

He shows us how, even in the most horrendous physical and emotional situations, we can all tap into our inner self and find within ourselves the means to stop spraying our poison onto others or punishing them for the pain we feel.

His words contain such a direct and brutal message that it’s impossible to remain indifferent; you’ll feel the same raw energy and transforming power as a gaze from any of his painted portraits. Art at its best.

So, if you are intrigued and interested, wait until you hear the way in which Alfred Eaker himself envisions his own novel in the interview that will soon follow.

Brother Cobweb was released by Open Books Press this Easter.

To order Brother Cobweb, follow this link to the Open Books website

Next on Novena:

Resilience, reconciliation and redemption after Church abuse: Alfred Eaker’s ‘Brother Cobweb’

More book reviews on Novena


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.