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Roger Dubin: A Novelist in our Ranks

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 08, 2012 | In Reviews

Well over a year ago, while I was in the midst of reviewing a series of new “Catholic” novels (beginning with Catholic Novels: The Big Question), a user and supporter of CatholicCulture.org by the name of Roger Dubin kindly sent me an autographed copy of his own novel. He had published The Coin of the Realm in 2008, through Tarsus Press. The book looked intriguing, so I kept it on my desk until I could get to it. That took me fourteen months, but once I started reading it in late February, I found it hard to put down.

The story features an American merchant seaman, Rick Weisman, who inherits a coin which traces its history back to the Romanov dynasty in Russia. The so-called Zevi Coin is said to lead its bearer to whatever his soul is seeking. Rick does not really know what he is seeking, but aboard ship he gets caught up in a struggle against human trafficking which leads him to Lorraine, another fighter in the cause, with whom he falls in love. On the surface, at the level of turning pages as quickly as one can, this is a riveting adventure story. Deeper down it is a reflection on the choices we make and how we work out our own destinies, whether with magic, by fate, or through Divine Providence.

Dubin is a fine, at times even a poetic, writer. His sense of plot, setting and character are excellent. CatholicCulture.org readers should be aware that the novel is not self-consciously Catholic. The hero is a secular Jew. The characters in general are far from perfect, and with no apologies. While concerns about the meaning of life percolate beneath the surface, they are hinted at rather than explicitly developed. But the story is compelling, the prose rich, and the themes haunting. I found myself thinking about the book long after the leading characters had reached physical safety, wondering whether they might be on the way toward spiritual safety, too.

Clearly Dubin intended this. Tarsus Press takes its inspiration from St. Paul on the Road to Damascus, and there is a story in every journey. So it is encouraging that Roger is at work on another novel. I’ll eagerly await the result, but with no less gratitude for his remarkable first novel, The Coin of the Realm.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: cieslajohn7542 - Jan. 30, 2017 10:13 AM ET USA

    Jeff - great essay overall, but a correction is in order. The first President Bush did not embroil the U.S. in an unwinnable foreign war. In fact, the First Gulf War (aka, Operation Desert Storm) was limited to specific (just) objectives and achieved them. "Bush 1" lost the election to Bill Clinton because he didn't understand that "its about the Economy, stupid...". I spent 28+ years in the Army, and some of my colleagues are dead because "Bush 2" didn't demonstrate the same wisdom/restraint.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jan. 29, 2017 4:30 PM ET USA

    This is the best article I have read about Trump and his presidency. Every point in it is worthy of serious consideration.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jan. 28, 2017 11:37 AM ET USA

    I still don't understand the fuss over "the Wall". Perhaps an actual masonry structure is not the best way to accomplish the goal; rather, one might consider drones and motion sensors. Still, a country has the right to control its borders, people are obligated to follow the law, and no foreigner has an absolute right to come and live here.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Jan. 27, 2017 8:49 PM ET USA

    Glad this your opinion. The wall can be and should be accomplished. Mexico should pay a share as they are complicit in encouraging illegals and I repeat ILLEGALS to come here. They are a rogue state controlled by cartels. Given your expertise tell us how you would solve the illegals problem. No kumbya stuff.

  • Posted by: MatJohn - Jan. 27, 2017 7:45 PM ET USA

    "Self justifying pragmatism that operates within the natural law." If that be put on President Trump's tombstone, it will be his greatest contribution to making America great again. Thank you for a brilliant critique of #45.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Jan. 27, 2017 6:27 PM ET USA

    I commend the president for doing what the last president did not: strike a position for America and stand by it. Re the wall and immigration: we've seen what doesn't work. It's time to try something else. No moralizing about what's right or wrong. Radical Islam has waged war on the West. They have slaughtered Christians, and drugs have poured across our southern border. Mr. Trump is doing something, whereas the last president did little or nothing, Dr. Mirus. Give our new president a chance.

  • Posted by: rdubin1661 - Mar. 08, 2012 10:53 PM ET USA

    Thanks for your interest in "The Coin of the Realm," Michael. You can find the Kindle format (and a range of other e-reader formats) at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/15223

  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Mar. 08, 2012 8:19 PM ET USA

    To suggest a Kindle version or anything else, I would suggest using the Contact form on the publisher's website, Tarsus Press.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 08, 2012 4:05 PM ET USA

    Argh, wish it was in Kindle format. Oh well, I should keep studying and not get sucked in to a new book, at least for now. Maybe when I get done studying the Kindle version will be out?