Rev. Francis Galles, a 90-year-old Catholic priest, believes that writing an autobiography can be a blessing to the author, perhaps even more than to readers. The Last of My Many Friendships is the fulfillment of his personal goal to record the events of his life.
Galles, the ninth of ten children, begins with the chronology of his family and early years. He relates his feelings about his siblings, parents, friends, and difficult events, such as deaths in the family. Following these promising 45 pages, which read fluidly, the rest of the book becomes more like a list or pages from a diary. In short, one-paragraph entries, we learn such details as who accompanied him to dinner on a particular day, what play he saw on a different day, and that he got a Craftmatic adjustable bed delivered and how much it cost. The last portion of the book lists, from 1 to 185, the friendships he has had throughout his life.
Galles surprisingly has dozens of female friends. He admits to having crushes on several, falling in love, and even being intimate with at least one of these women. He doesn’t discuss, however, how these relationships play out in the context of being a Catholic priest.
Meanwhile, although he hints at personal growth— “It was unknown to me at the time that I was reluctant to let out my feelings”; “In our way of thinking and believing then this was God’s punishment for his sin”—we never learn how and why Galles matures.
Ultimately, Galles’s compilation is a missed opportunity to impart all that he learned in his 90 years. He likely met his goal of personal fulfillment in writing the book, and the dozens of friends who are included will surely enjoy seeing their names in print. But this memoir requires revision in order to be relevant to an audience beyond that select group.
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