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Wisdom from the Wick

Adult; Spirituality/Inspirational; (Market)

No one seems to remember when John first started coming to the Wick. Who is he? Why the Warwick Tavern? His discussions on life and faith don’t seem appropriate for a neighborhood tavern. 

Despite that—or perhaps because of it—people come to him and welcome his views, which always seem uncannily tailored to what they needed to hear. The crazy thing? They didn’t come to the Wick to have any such conversations; they came to have a few drinks and laugh with friends. At least, that’s what Wick’s regular Bob thought when he stopped in one night.

But there was something about John that drew people to him. When Bob sat down next to John that night, he didn’t yet realize the unexpected path John would set him on. Over a couple of months, John, Bob, and a handful of other regulars discuss and witness the power of prayer, God’s graces, hope, faith, and so much more. 

So, pull up a stool at the bar, order a drink from Al, and remember: open your mind, your spirit, your heart and soul. John will lead you through a journey of faith, hope, joy, and light. 

Fargnoli (The Deacon) sets this spiritually contemplative story at the Warwick Tavern, affectionately coined the “the Wick” by locals, in suburban New Jersey. Though no one is certain where newcomer John is from—or why he’s chosen the Wick to frequent—one thing’s undisputed: he’s stirring something among the regulars, with heartfelt advice that's changing lives. It starts with Bob, a “lukewarm Catholic,” who, after hearing John offer to pray for a friend at the tavern, asks him “Do you really think the prayers have any effect at all?” John delves into the deeper meaning behind that question, gently coaxing Bob to re-examine God’s presence in his own life, in a profound conversation that kindles something real at the Wick.

More “spiritual autobiography” than a traditional novel, Fargnoli’s story plumbs what makes humans tick, connect, believe, and hope. Bob’s awakening eventually leads him to forgiveness and a renewed love for family, but he’s just the first of John’s acolytes: Beth, struggling with career decisions, wishes God “were more real to me”; Louise is eager to understand the difference between a soul and a physical body; and Mike is wondering how God can be real, given the terrible events happening in the world. John takes their questions in stride, drawing diagrams to help explain ( Fargnoli includes the hand-drawn diagrams throughout) and tapping into biblical passages for understanding.

John’s origins stay mysterious, but his influence lingers long after he leaves the Wick. As the locals reflect on his advice, musing that he’s “the same John who wrote the Gospel,” they agree to meet regularly to keep his ideas alive, building on his parting guidance that “Fear gets in the way of our faith so often. They are both powerful forces. The one you surrender to will control you.” Fargnoli closes with a celebration of the real Wick, in Somerdale, New Jersey, and its history.

Takeaway: Warm story of a stranger kickstarting a spiritual awakening in a suburban bar.

Comparable Titles: Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B