“Maestro” is the title of one of the stories in Steve Doughty’s The Man with Six Typewriters…and Others Who Knew God. “Maestro” tells of the director of a local choral group, an amateur group directed by one who evoked far more from the singers than they expected and also returned much to those singers. Maestro could well become an acclamation for Steve Doughty because of his sense of story and pacing in this collection. Doughty, a Presbyterian minister, listens with the ear of his heart and writes 21 vignettes that range from a search for justice in Colombia, a conflict between a resident of a nursing home and two entrepreneurs, a Native American stone carver, and even an Armenian artist. The stories move in multiple dimensions, always carrying the reader toward an endpoint. And though each story comes to a completion, each story also brings its life to the reader, planting new seeds of wisdom and insight within the reader.
Stories for children bring all matters to resolution, and many stories for adults tend toward a similar resolution. Packages of characters and relationships are tied together, though perhaps not always neatly. I suspect one facet of the consternation concerning Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is that the ending of To Kill a Mockingbird brought a satisfying resolution to the complexities addressed in that novel; however, now we see in the second novel that the complexities growing from those circumstances are not so easily resolved. We no longer read with the eyes of a child, but with deeper eyes.
Steve Doughty brings resolution to his stories, but his stories also contain gentle hooks that point us, in a way similar to the writing of Rainer Maria Rilke, toward the deeper reality of God in our midst. He shows God peeking at us, sometimes smiling and sometimes weeping. Doughty’s stories contain an abundant treasure of insight as we grow throughout the lifecycle.
Ending the story “The Hostess,” Doughty quotes a Latin hymn:
Ubi caritas et amor, / Deus ibi est.
Where charity and love are / God is there.
Those few words describe, for me, the entirety of this book.
An appendix offers questions for personal and group reflection. Small-group conversation generated by these stories would release a passionate spirituality among the participants.
The Man With Six Typewriters, by Steve Doughty. Foreword by Jane E. Vennard. Wipf and Stock Publishers