Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Shack by William Paul Young: First Chapters, First Impressions

The foreword has prepared me for what is to come. This is a work of devotional Christian writing with a desire to infuse folk wisdom into a meditation on why bad things happen to good people. I am not a Christian (I'm an atheist, actually), and I am not attracted to folksiness, so I am feeling a bit down right now about the prospects of my enjoying this book.

The pretty cover of an English edition of the American Gates Ajar
I was not fooled by the foreword's insistence that the book is a transcript of something a real person said. That is an old trick that fiction writers have played for a long time. Ever since A Million Little Pieces, though, publishers have been more careful about labelling fiction as fiction, so my edition of the book, at least, takes pains to indicate that The Shack is a novel.

The book is looking to be similar to some popular devotional writing of the nineteenth century I have read like The Gates Ajar. In that book, a woman seeks comfort from an angelic aunt who explains why the woman's brother had to die in the Civil War and how wonderful heaven is. I actually could not get through that book, but I will get through The Shack. Maybe Young will make heaven interesting.

The Shack is the third book on my reading list that is set in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder why.

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