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The brilliance of ‘Sunday Will Never Be the Same’

DAWN EDEN GOLDSTEIN
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When Dawn Eden, a rock and roll journalist, opens her ears to God, the story she tells is strangely compelling, driven, and charmingly scattered.

Tuesday, June 19, 2019, 4:28 a.m.

Dawn Eden Goldstein (once writing as Dawn Eden) has me up early. Her book is nagging me. I don’t know why.

I have been reading her memoir, Sunday Will Never Be the Same: A Rock and Roll Journalist Opens Her Ears to God, largely without success. I’ve read some of her previous work and I reviewed one of her books. I’m reviewing Sunday. I had expectations. Sunday does not match whatever it was I expected.

Two minutes later.

She uses a date and time stamp to open episodes in her memoir. I’m adopting it: Either a respectful gesture of homage or a lightly sardonic mimic? Don’t know; I just like it.

She begins her first entry, “Saturday, March 9, 1974, afternoon.” She is five and a half years old. She’d rather go bare foot outside, but reluctantly puts on her sandals to avoid sticker burrs from the back yard. She remembers this?

At five and a half, outside in sandals, Ms. Goldstein has a wondrous revelation. If everything is just a thought in God’s mind, what would she find if she could get “behind God’s thoughts of everything”? Love! What God thinks is love! Everything is love. Maybe the Youngbloods had something to do with it; she and the Get Together lyrics sort of grew up together. Why not? At whatever age, theology’s where you find it.

She was going to tell her mother about loving everybody but thought better of it. Her genuine timidity makes her hesitate, as it seems to do every so often moving forward.

Forty-eight minutes later.

Are there really people out there with no deeper ambition than to be a music journalist and rock historian? People who look for truth, beauty, God, maybe a boyfriend in the rock clubs of Greenwich Village? Yes, apparently.

Twenty minutes later.

Goldstein’s Sunday is intensely personal, frequently breathless and not a little breath-taking. At times it is painfully revealing, often raw, and very well written.

A few minutes later.

I’m old enough to be her older brother, if she had a brother. There are places in this book I want to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to straighten up. Screw the depression, look at what you have, walk on the sunny side of the street, blah-blah, and I’d point out, you are looking for love in all the wrong places. Clichéd? Sure. But it’s all I got. I was an only child so I don’t have a kid sister; probably for the best, I’m thinking. I am involved with this book.

But that is much of her life. Not that it has been a bad one, not altogether. She got herself fired as a copy editor from the New York Post for inserting pro-life edits into a piece about IVF and left-over embryos. She admitted it was a highly unprofessional thing to do. That aside, I think the illicit edits speak well of her.

The entire memoir ultimately is how she left Reformed Judaism for Evangelical Christianity for Catholic Christianity. It is not always a conscious quest, not as things unfold. It comes on the oblique, until later when it doesn’t. There is a lot of interference, static, chaff to blow through. I find Augustine’s Confessions the same sort of mess.

Fifty-eight minutes later.

I’m genuinely bogged down in the rock scene. I do not know what she is talking about. I’m a Folk fossil, myself. Dropping rock genres on me beckons “pearls before swine.” Goldstein does it like I’m supposed to know something: sunshine pop, metal, heavy metal (is there a difference?), heavy-metal hair (that actually may be a hair style and not a genre, but I don’t know), British alternative, glam-rockers. She honestly might as well be an automotive oil connoisseur explaining viscosity to my #3 daughter, not that I haven’t tried already.

My, but she knows a lot of rockers. I don’t know these people. I am compelled to pause, googling this name, that name and another, and yet one more so I can find some context that will help me develop this review.

Five minutes later.

Oh, that’s sad, Curt Boettcher, a relatively obscure rocker who died June 1987 in a LA hospital room bleeding out from a clipped vein during a routine procedure for AIDS-related pneumonia. The medical staff backed away from his HIV tainted blood. She wanted to interview him but she missed. Now she finds him six months dead. Alexa is playing him for me.

I need a break.

June 20, 2019, 1:35 p.m.

I dislike leaving a piece unfinished. Putting this one off? No problem. It has become a torture. I know how it ends; memoirs are like that. Find me a summary, a hook. She wants God, or maybe thinks she does. How does she find him? How does he find her? She’s not five and a half anymore.

A club scene, 1986: Acrid smoke from a smoke machine, said to enhance rock drama, irritates her eyes. She’s right up front. A British group is doing Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” (I know that one; Morning Joe used to play snippets of it when I used to watch Morning Joe.) She rubs her eyes, smearing eyeliner. The result, she writes, “I am a stained mess.” “Five hundred people [in the club] stand between me and the nearest source of water. There is no way I can get clean.” That struck me. Is something potentially baptismal in there?

June 23, 2019, 9:10 a.m.

Her definitive moment (Friday, October 22, 1999) is a remembered voice from a vivid dream. “Some things are not meant to be known. Some things are meant to be understood.” Understand, then you’ll know? You’ll know when you understand? Whichever. It was her trigger, her God moment. She is baptized Evangelical but by 2006 she is Roman Catholic, soon with a STD in dogmatic theology. Her memoir ends with Marian adoration. Whew.

June 25, 2019, 9:30 a.m.

I found Sunday perplexing, maddening, strangely compelling, driven, charmingly scattered, and a word I rarely use, brilliant. I am trying to write a review like the book I read (excepting brilliant). I’m not certain she will like it. I’m not sure I like it.

Read more: Gary Sinise tells his Catholic conversion story in new memoir

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