Mr. Blue has had a lot of fans over the years—it was reprinted from its publication in 1928 through the 1980s—but they were likely people who shared author Miles Connolly’s view of Catholic Christianity.
J. Blue fashions himself as a modern-day Jesus or St. Francis, giving away an inheritance and living from hand to mouth among the poor of New York and Boston. Mostly what he does in the book is preach to the narrator, a businessman friend who admires him but can’t understand Blue’s disinterest in money. The virtually plotless novella appealed to Catholics who sought a faith beyond dogma; it became a cult guide to radical spirituality. But even Connolly, after he had married and had children, admitted it was an impractical guide for a husband and father. He did take his faith seriously his whole life, however; when Connolly died in 1964, one of his daughters said: “My father believed very strongly that you could be a very strong Catholic without being a wimp. . . . He was extremely generous with his money to people who were down and out. I could remember on Christmas Day how people would be around our Christmas dinner table. There’d be the cop on the beat because my dad would run into him, or some alcoholic. He had very strong principles for himself and for our family.”
Myles Connolly was a reporter in his native Boston until he accepted accept a position in Hollywood. A writer-producer, he worked on more than 40 films, including Music for Millions (1944, for which he received an Academy Award nomination); State of the Union (1948); and Here Comes the Groom (1952).
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