Contact: Mark Givens / 909-293-9270 /

Title: MASS: A Sniper, a Father, and a Priest
Author: Jo Scott-Coe
Category: Literary Nonfiction
Publication Date: April 4, 2018
Pages: 340
Binding: paperback
ISBN: 978-1-938349-73-7
Suggested Retail Price: $22.95

Claremont, CA – January 03, 2018 – Pelekinesis is pleased to announce the upcoming release of MASS: A Sniper, a Father, and a Priest, new literary nonfiction from Jo Scott-Coe, available April 4, 2018 worldwide.

On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the University of Texas at Austin’s clock tower and performed the first televised and (at the time) deadliest mass shooting in American history. Two weeks after the murders, FBI agents interviewed a Catholic priest in Alaska who had known Whitman and his family for fifteen years.
Jo Scott-Coe discovered the report of this interview in an online search about the shooting nearly fifty years later. As a stray Catholic, she was intrigued: Was the priest still alive? What was the nature of his connection to the sniper? How had he been affected by his friend’s violence? What light did this relationship shed on the sniper’s experience of religion?
A search for simple answers led to more questions and five years of research, through archives and cross-country site visits, through interviews, newspaper reports, and public records. The winding path of the priest’s buried story—a mixed-up life with its own sad and ambiguous ending—led deeper into the rabbit-hole of mid-century American (and mostly male) power structures in the Church, in middle-class white families, in marriages, in scouting, in the military. “Normalcy,” at least on the outside, could hide a host of dysfunctions, perpetuated by unspoken allegiances and toxic permission. Invisible brotherhoods made it too easy for special men to lead double lives, turn destruction inwards, or lash out violently against those they claimed to love.
Not much has changed. Half a century since Whitman’s rampage, we now consume seemingly endless images of domestic terror from men wielding guns in public places: at schools, in movie theaters, churches, nightclubs, and city streets. But the “breaking news” ritual still blinds us to the terror such perpetrators have often first inflicted in private and have (sometimes) endured in their own childhoods.
Rather than deflecting Whitman’s responsibility or seeking a single cause for his final violent acts, MASS traces Scott-Coe’s struggle to explore the intersecting lives of adult men whose values imprinted upon Whitman long before he ever killed anyone. Scott-Coe turns the camera away from the spectacle and towards overlapping narratives in a broader cultural moment, showing how the sniper and his two fathers—one biological, one religious—were united by the most damaging traditions of American priesthood, both secular and sacred.
Employing a three-part structure that fuses two lyric meditations alongside a core of intensely researched narrative history, MASS probes the hidden wounds of paternal-pastoral failure and interrogates our collective American conscience. Extensive supplementary materials are also available, including author’s notes and sources.

MASS: A Sniper, a Father, and a Priest by Jo Scott-Coe will be available through Small Press Distribution, Baker & Taylor, Bertrams, directly from the publisher's website, and in fine local bookstores worldwide.

The page at Pelekinesis for supplemental material is here:

For more information please contact Mark Givens at 909-293-9270 or

About the author

Jo Scott-Coe is the author of Teacher at Point Blank (Aunt Lute). Her first-ever portrait of Kathy Leissner Whitman, “Listening to Kathy” (Catapult) received a Notable listing in Best American Essays and is now available in print. Scott-Coe's nonfiction has appeared in Talking Writing, Tahoma Literary Review, Cultural Weekly, American Studies Journal, Pacific Coast Philology, Superstition Review, Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, Salon, and many other publications. She is an associate professor of English composition at Riverside City College, where she was named 57th Distinguished Faculty Lecturer for her research on the epistolary history of Kathy Leissner. Scott-Coe also facilitates community writing workshops for the Inlandia Institute.
More information at

About the publisher

Pelekinesis is a small book publishing company focusing on the development of independent authors and artists by creatively embracing the evolving publishing paradigm and utilizing modern distribution platforms. Full catalog and press material can be found at


Supplemental Material

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