The Odour of Sanctity, by Amy Brown

The Odour of Sanctity, by Amy Brown (Fiction & Literature)

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In 1998, Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel released an album called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. By 2000 he seemed to have disappeared.

About 150 years earlier, Christina Rossetti posed as the Virgin Mary experiencing the annunciation for five days straight, while her brother, Gabriel, painted.

Nearly four centuries before that, Margery Kempe (brewer, baker, mystic, “celibate” mother of fourteen) became the first English-speaker to officially record her memoirs.

In 1231, Conrad Von Marburg smelt rose petals when he knelt beside the body of 24-year-old Elizabeth of Hungary—the body he had beaten to death.

For three days in 662, a newborn baby spoke almost uninterrupted, making divine demands and calling himself Rumwold.

And, not quite 300 years earlier still, Aurelius Augustine asked God to grant him “chastity and continence, but not yet”.

The Odour of Sanctity tells the astonishing stories of these six candidates for sainthood. A work of virtuoso storytelling and spellbinding technical control, it is a great epic poem for our time.

Amy Brown was born in 1984. Her debut collection, The Propaganda Poster Girl, was shortlisted for the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book in the 2009 Montana NZ Book Awards.

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Tags: Fiction, Literature