Friday Fiction – Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice-Cream God

Original Sinner

The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice-Cream God

Submitter: This came to my attention because we inter-library loaned it to another library system…

Holly: Weird title, but this is the third book in a trilogy that includes The Last Catholic in America and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? I’ve heard of both! It was re-released in 2006 in the Loyola Classics series. The reviews often refer to the main character as an “Irish Catholic Holden Caulfield.” So, I’m gonna go with old, but not necessarily awful. People on GoodReads seem to like it, with a 3.95 average rating. Fiction is a hard one sometimes. The cover looks dated and this copy looks worn on the edges, but if it circulates you’re probably fine keeping the whole trilogy. Here’s a great example of when it really isn’t clear if an item is old and weird or old, weird, and/or “classic.” If I hadn’t googled the title, I might be tempted to weed it at first glance too. My library does not own this trilogy, but there are 12 libraries in our state-wide ILL system who do. 7 of them are universities and 5 are public libraries.

Unoriginal Sinner letters to God

Unoriginal Sinner 36

Unoriginal Sinner 42

Unoriginal Sinner 56


  1. I read the whole trilogy when I was in eighth grade at the recommendation of my father who grew up pre Vatican two in the fifties. It’s… ok. The story is cute and I wouldn’t say it qualifies as an “awful” library book but it is heavily dated. I doubt younger readers would sympathize with the main character much, especially in “Do black patent leather shoes really reflect up” but if your library has a large senior or middle aged population it’s worth keeping around.

  2. This deserves a new edition (if there isn’t one, there should be). I would read this!

  3. I vaguely recall reading the Black Patent Leather Shoes one, or at least part of it. I think I was connecting it to a George Carlin (or other similar standup) routine and was disappointed when I found it wasn’t.

  4. I think most people wouldn’t mind people coming to their door to spread the word of the Ice Cream God. Especially, if samples were involved.

  5. I read those books! A friend of mine was Catholic and he loved them. The first one deals with a kid in Catholic elementary school, the next is the same kid in Catholic high school and the last one he goes to college in Chicago (where the books are based and where my friend was from) and it is very melancholy compared the first two as I remember.

  6. If you are not Catholic you are probably not going to find the books funny. I went to Catholic school and the books had me rolling because I could relate. You have to be on the “inside” to get the humor especially with the first two books.

  7. If it is a classic, it should be republished with a cover that doesn’t use 1970s era extremely dated font(s). Circulation statistics should give an idea if it’s worth buying that newer edition.

  8. I attended a Catholic High School in the early 1960s. We were cautioned against forming a ‘scrupulous conscience’. In other words, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’.

    Paying too much attention to things that really don’t matter is something teens tend to do. This brand of Catholic humor fights that by making fun of it. Another example of this style is ‘St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies’. Even ‘The Screwtape Letters’ fits.

    The reprints could find a useful place in a Catholic High School or even in a public library. At least teens could laugh while they learn about what life was like for their parents and grandparents.

  9. I don’t remember a word of what was said but I do recall seeing the author interviewed by Phil Donohue in, oh, the early ’80.

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