Local man authors new book about monks

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published January 26, 2022

 Clinton Township resident Joe Mazzara’s newest book “Sweet Marmalade Abbey” was released late last year. He calls it a fun and comforting book about a group of Benedictine monks in the fictional St. Adelaide Abbey in Detroit.

Clinton Township resident Joe Mazzara’s newest book “Sweet Marmalade Abbey” was released late last year. He calls it a fun and comforting book about a group of Benedictine monks in the fictional St. Adelaide Abbey in Detroit.

Photo provided by Joe Mazzara

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Joe Mazzara wants people to have fun when they read his book.  

His latest book, “Sweet Marmalade Abbey” was released late last year.

“It is a fun and comforting book about a group of Benedictine monks in the fictional St. Adelaide Abbey in Detroit,” he said.

Mazzara said a big reason he wrote the 167-page book was to provide an antidote to what he views as all of the negativity and hostility in today’s culture.

“The characters are quirky, funny and kind,” he explained. “I came up with the name before I wrote the book. I write a lot of short stories and magazine articles. I built the characters around the title.”

In explaining the monks, Mazzara said one is dealing with immaturity with pulling pranks on other monks and lusting after women; another is dealing with synesthesia, a sensory disorder.

“I’m sure a lot of my story ideas come from my past,” he said. “I’m Catholic, so I had a lot of dealings with priests and thought of people I knew in the past, and characters have bits and pieces of each person.”     

Mazzara began working on the book in the beginning of 2020.

“I was noticing that everybody was worried about COVID and people were dying and knowing how fractured our country is, I decided to write a book where all the characters are kind and loveable, except one,” he said.

This is Mazzara’s third published book, his first of fiction. His first book, “Pedal Cars and Purple Pickles,” was released in 2001, and “Liberty Ship Survivor,” was published in 2005.

“Sweet Marmalade Abbey” is published by Paperback Press.

For Mazzara, a fun part of working on this book was how he entertains himself.

“My wife would watch me laughing when I was writing a certain paragraph, or describing  a certain character. I want it to be lighthearted and funny. Writing a funny book was even more fun.”

Since the monks are Benedictine, he researched what kind of robes they wear and examined their rules and how the abbeys are set up.

In explaining what Adelaide Abbey is like, Mazzara said it’s brick and granite, but not fancy.

“What used to be the chapter house is now a guidance center, and they hired a therapist to work there,” he said. “One of the therapists is one of the monks, is 6 foot 5 and used to be a bouncer on 8 Mile.”  

Mazzara contrasts what he sees in today’s world with the values of Judeo-Christian culture the monks display, like gratefulness, forgiveness and humility.

“Instead of humility, everybody wants everything,” he said. “Instead of being grateful for what we have, people are always demanding more.”

The 70-year-old Mazzara is retired, having worked 25 years for Macomb County Community Mental Health. He is a master’s degree-level psychologist. He’s previously worked as an adjunct psychology instructor at Macomb Community College and a psychology professor at St. Clair County Community College.

“Sweet Marmalade Abbey” is available for purchase on Amazon for $10.99 for the paperback version and $3.99 for the Kindle edition.

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