In God’s Angry Man, author B. Wayne Quist pays tribute to his uncle, Joe Haan. A child of the Great Depression, Joe’s bleak childhood bred in him a mistrust of organized religion. Lack of love and formal education didn’t impede his inquisitive mind as he rode the rails across the country, fought the Battle of the Bulge in Patton’s Army, and recorded his thoughts as a way of making sense of mankind’s insanity.
Interspersed throughout Joe’s story are his poems, songs and letters; piecing together a patchwork of life experience that can only be brought about by way of hard knocks. His workingman’s poetry ranges from themes of survival and the universe, to futility of war and man’s ignorance, thus evoking the inevitable comparison to Woody Guthrie.
An evolutionist, Joe marveled at creation while repudiating the existence of a creator. While Joe’s belief system is championed by the author, a sense of apathy is felt in the absence of details regarding the personal relationships in his life. Whether one agrees with his aggressive atheism or not, Uncle Joe has something to offer all in the way of words of wisdom: “My advice for the next generation – when all else fails, try common sense.”
Reviewed by Alicea Swett