I am a Catholic. I was baptized Catholic as a baby, and Mom raised me as such. The priests baptized Miquel Josep Serra a Catholic, born 1713 in Petra, Mallorca. Dad converted, and became Catholic. Twenty years before Serra’s birth, the Spanish Inquisition held autos de fé in Palma, Mallorca’s capital, and Jews were burned at the stake. My brother and sister are Catholics. Four more Jews were burned in 1720, when Miquel was seven. Grandma and Grandpa were Catholics. For his Holy Orders, Miquel Josep adopted the name of Father Fray Junípero Serra, and later still he came to what we know today as California, state where I was born and raised a Catholic.
In Last Mass Jamie Iredell navigates the complex history of colonial California, his own personal history as a Catholic growing up in that state, and the process of writing itself, with all its pitfalls and revelations.
“Last Mass, truly, is about mass—not just as ritual to perform, but as land to claim, wealth to seize, people to conquer, murder to commit, and psychosis to drive it all. An elegy, that’s this book, and a history, and a poem, too. And while of course it’s about the sorrow of last things, it’s still more about what makes the story of California, and of Jamie Iredell himself, a Californian Catholic. But within these stories lies another yet, and, in the wrangling of the bind it presents, another sort of mass. How do you reconcile your love for the California you call home, for your deeply pious Californian family, with the history—protracted and hellish—that is the father of both? Iredell navigates his world with deftness, beauty, brutality, and light. In the face of so much, it’s a feat next to holy.”
—D. Foy, author of Made to Break
“‘I do not believe in—.’ As a boy, Jamie Iredell was unable to finish this sentence, and he continues to search for an answer in Last Mass, a powerful lyric exploration of his Catholic childhood, the history of Father Junípero Serra, glimpses of the Playboy channel, and much more. Iredell’s unforgiving voice weaves together an all-consuming tale even the most sinful of heathens will enjoy.”
—Chelsea Hodson, author of Pity the Animal
“Last Mass feels like finding yourself in someone else’s dream and not wanting to wake up from it.”
—Chelsea Martin, author of Even Though I Don’t Miss You
JAMIE IREDELL is the author of the books I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac, The Book of Freaks, and Prose. Poems. A Novel. His writing has appeared in many magazines, among them The Collagist, The Literary Review, The Rumpus, and PANK. He lives in Atlanta where he teaches creative writing.