Picture a college town in the mid- 1970s. An English professor who has become an expert in extramarital dalliances is smitten by one of his graduate students. They meet for lunch around noon, and before three they make declarations of love. Is it possible that their subsequent affair could ultimately teach us something about true forgiveness and the radical meaning of grace? Only Robert Farrar Capon would have the audacity -- and the authorial skill -- to fashion such a tale.
It has taken well over a decade for Between Noon and Three
to appear in this, its original form. First published under two separate titles with significant parts excised and an entire section recast, the real Between Noon and Three
is actually a trilogy of intertwined tales, each of which exhibits Capon's persistent insistence on the outrageous nature of grace. The original manuscript is here printed in full, including a new introduction by Capon on the work's unusual history.
Reading sometimes like a provocative novel, sometimes like a theological wrangle between writer and reader, Between Noon and Three
defies categorization. Capon sums up the book this way: "Those who read it as a novel are doomed to disappointment: at every turn, the story line entangles itself in theological ropework. On the other hand, those who prefer their theology straight up -- no ice, no olives, no twists
-- will recoil at the plethora of oddments I serve with it, not to mention my penchant for mixing purple prose with low comedy. I always work two sides of the street at once, running from store to store, picking up what strikes my fancy. If you can stand the switching back and forth, it makes for a diverting experience."
Diverting, disconcerting, engaging, enlightening -- it's pure Capon.