Posts Tagged ‘leif enger’

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The late night blogger

February 4, 2009

’cause that’s what I am.  apparently.

This week I am struggling a bit with some insomnia.  I’ve just been laying in bed for 2 hrs. without success and decided to get up and go ahead and write this blog.  Often times, this blog will probably contain a review or critique on some sort of media that I have taken in.  A friend recently commented to me that it seemed from my twitter and facebook that all I ever do was go to meetings and watch movies.  I thought about this and decided that was largely true.  I enjoy entertainment and I enjoy the process and patterns behind really good entertainment.  So, write about what you know, right?

Last night I finished a profound book.  It’s entitled Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.  This book effected me deeply.  I’m actually having trouble putting into words just exactly how it has made me feel.  First off, there’s the way Mr. Enger writes.  It’s nothing short of fantastic.  His prose flow together like poetry – liquid words on the page; I picked up this book nightly to read, half because the reading itself was so enjoyable.

The story is pure and simple.  You are immediately drawn to each of the characters.  Somehow, and this is the magic that writers have, you feel deeply for each character in this book.  I say feel deeply, because though you love each of the main characters, there are others you do not love, but you still feel as deeply about them – truly magic.  I don’t want to go off and sound like some sort of romantic, blushing school girl (though perhaps I’ve passed that point already) but I can’t recommend this story highly enough.

Here’s a taste, I think the author won’t mind as it will probably get you to go buy the thing yourself:  The year is 1962. The narrator is Reuben Land, the son of Jeremiah. Here’s the story of his birth when he almost died—or maybe did die.

I was lying uncovered on a metal table across the room.

Dad lifted me gently. I was very clean from all that rubbing, and I was gray and beginning to cool. A little clay boy is what I was.

“Breathe,” Dad said.

I lay in his arms.

Dr. Nokes said, “Jeremiah, it has been twelve minutes.”

“Breathe!” The picture I see is of Dad, brown hair short and wild, giving this order as if he expected nothing but obedience.

Dr. Nokes approached him. “Jeremiah. There would be brain damage now. His lungs can’t fill.”

Dad leaned down, laid me back on the table, took off his jacket and wrapped me in it—a black canvas jacket with a quilted lining, I have it still. He left my face uncovered.

“Sometimes,” said Dr. Nokes, “there is something unworkable in one of the organs. A ventricle that won’t pump correctly. A liver that poisons the blood.” Dr. Nokes was a kindly and reasonable man. “Lungs that can’t expand to take in air. In these cases,” said Dr. Nokes, “we must trust in the Almighty to do what is best.” At which Dad stepped across and smote Dr. Nokes with a right hand, so that the doctor went down and lay on his side with his pupils unfocused. As Mother cried out, Dad turned back to me, a clay child wrapped in a canvas coat, and said in a normal voice, “Reuben Land, in the name of the living God I am telling you to breath.” (2-3)

Christians don’t usually deck their doctors. That’s part of why the book works. There’s faith in it, but not like your usual faith. More strange, like the Bible.

That bring me to the two points that most attract me to this book:  The first is the “realness” or absolute honesty and integrity of the characters.  I mean integrity in the sense that the characters are who they are, through and through.  It’s also really real.  This is no dream, fantasy or some escape into a world that’s too good to be true.  There is great pain in this book.  but also great faith.  not the fake stuff you see in (forgive me) Left Behind or Fireproof (again, sorry, this is not the place to rag on those stories).

The last thing that I want to say is that this book truly ends well.  Many movies, books, and ideas start off really well, but true greatness comes from ending well.  Life is a journey, but there is also a destination and it is of great value.  If you don’t end well, the journey may be for nothing.  I am glad to say that this book ends well.  A true feat, but any standard.  I haven’t found a book that has moved me this much in a long time.  I wept at the end and immediately wished I’d never read the book just so I could have the experience of reading it for the first time again.  This book is powerful and wonderful and will remind you of why we read in the first place.  Get it.  You won’t regret it.

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