Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Shack

I am a firm believer that there is a time and place for everything, especially when it comes to certain books. Not any book can be read at anytime. Such as "The Great Gatsby". I have attempted to read that book a hundred times before and for a long time I was unable to finish it. Then one hot day sitting at the side of the road between Lahoma and Mino I just happened to find the book in my car. Those who really know me know that I never go anywhere for long periods of times without having a book. Those who know me also know that if there is a big todo about a book I will read it. Case in point the Harry Potter books. People start making a fuss and I am now addicted.

The same with "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young. I have seen this book many times when I have ventured into the Christian book store, but never looked twice at it. The same when I have gone to Walmart. I am not a inspirational ficition reader. I am more of a read anything person other than westerns, scifi, horror, or inspirational ficition. The last set of books I have read like that are the "Left Behind" series, that I have, no pun intended, left behind due to boredum and a very whiny anti-christ. But "The Shack" is a book unto its own.

Not giving too much of it away; it is about a man name Mack who has had a great loss in his life. Which many of us has had. Until one day he receives a very odd letter in his mailbox. Not knowing if it is a horrible trick or if it could possibly be from God, he decides to return to the scene of his "great sadness". From here the story gets powerful, somtimes long winded. I have learned a lot from this book, fiction or no. If you have ever been in the place that this character has been, which I can honestly say I have been at least once in my life, then you really need to read this book.

I believe that this is one of those books that you have to be in a certain place in your life to read, but when you do, you will be transformed.

The Bus Stops Here

The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck is (I know, I know) not a new title--technically; nonetheless...

I pulled our old copy for replacement and discovered just how hard it is to replace this title. It's not one of Steinbeck's better known works. Being a fan of the man, I took our copy home to read while waiting on its replacement. It is classic Steinbeck.

With a few carefully chosen words, he creates a cast of characters that run to type: the gorgeous blonde, the manipulative wife and her uninspired businessman husband, the star-struck girl, the loser kid, fast-talking salesman, and troublesome old guy. But from his pen, they emerge fresh and real--little people with big troubles thrown together for a bus ride on an old vehicle that starts the book up on a lift for repairs.

The two characters who are Real in this menage of stereotypes are Juan, the bus driver and host at the bus stop, and Mildred, a college student attracted to Juan from their first meeting. Both seem to be observers of the others and their coming together is less a seduction and more the natural gravition of like to like.

Steinbeck is always loving with his characters and, though this is far from his best book, his characters live and breath and talk and change, discovering things about themselves on this short journey to nowhere. Juan in particular, who thought he was going to walk away from his wife and all responsibilities, discovers that he can't do it. He is a responsible man, after all.

We knew it all along.

There are echos of this book in the movie, Bus Stop, written by George Axelrod from the William Inge play. The obvious similarity is found in the blonde--Marilyn Monroe creates te role of the curvacious blonde. Now I've got to watch the movie to find the other parallels!