Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a couple of books

i have a love/hate relationship with finishing a book.  there's something incredibly gratifying about turning the final page or the binding and being left to simply read the reviews or the publisher's paragraphs on the back of the book.  there's a glorious sense of completion and perhaps even accomplishment.  if the book was, um, let's say less than stellar, then it has the distinct flavor of crossing something off of your to-do list.  on the other hand, if the book was compelling, or if it was a delight, like a piece of chocolate that you wish would never melt away in your mouth, then finishing a book is a distinct kind of agony.  there is a grievous sense of completion and perhaps accomplishment.  all that is left is to hold the book as great closed thing, like standing poutingly outside an amusement park, looking in through its locked gates after it has closed for the day. 

i am often guilty of reading several books at once, and that sometimes leads to the unique situation i found myself in this week: i finished two books in a matter of 3 or 4 days.  first, i finished a book called "same kind of different as me," by ron hall and denver moore.

it is the unlikely story of a louisiana plantation cotton picker turned homeless man, and a successful texas art dealer, brought together by a woman who dared to be faithful to the feeling she had in her that God was calling her to love the "unlovable" in real and concrete ways.  the story is written by both men, told in their distinct voices, from their completely different worldviews.  i don't want to give anything away, in case one of you is going to read it, but let's just say that it will probably cause your eyes to well up more than once, both with elation and profound sorrow.  it is an amazing story of reconciliation, across huge socio-economic divides, racial divides, and more.  it is a true story, and if it doesn't challenge you to rethink your own attitudes about the homeless and those who are "one the margins" in your world, then you're not really paying attention. 

then, last night i finished a completely different kind of book, called "the yellow leaves" by frederick buechner.

as buechner is one of my favorite authors, or at least one of my favorite wordsmiths, i latch on to anything that has his name attached to it.  this book is exactly what its subtitle indicates: a miscellany.  it is a collection of what buechner calls 'yellow leaves,' bits of stories that are still hanging on.  it includes a bit of a novel, some wonderfully tasty short vignettes about members of his family, all kinds of poetry, and so on.  all of it is full of the expected wit and wordplay for which so many have come to love buechner.  if you're looking for some kind of complete work, or cohesive story, don't get this book.  in fact, unless you are already a big fan of buechner, i wouldn't really recommend this book.  however, if you have found that you love the way he can turn the mundane into something like holy ground, just by shedding a different light on it, you will find this to be a wonderful little collection, and you'll be glad these leaves were captured before falling to the ground. 


Happy said...

I read The Same Kind of Different As Me a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Definetely made me tear up in more than one part and changed the way I viewed those cast off by society and by myself.

Crafty P said...

Still need to read that first book- been wanting to a few times.
Could you please post a few Buechner words/quotes for us! please! I don't think I'll get to that book, but I've been a fellow lover of all things Buechner since a good friend of mine introduced us in college ;)