Christian Writers and Books of Quality

Sharing is nice

First off, brief mention of an article discussing the new genre of contemporary speculative, “New Wave Fabulists” in the Boston Globe (from Publisher’s Lunch yesterday), mentioning one of the most creative publicity stunts I’ve ever heard of.

"Half Life" author Jackson is currently coordinating the publication of her short story, Skin, [to] be printed via tattoos on 2,095 volunteers, one inked word at a time."

Now that’s dedication.

Anyway, I can’t remember who made the comment where because I roam around a lot perpetually distracted, which we all know the Internet contributes to. But someone made the comment (maybe it was Mir) that what we want is books we like reading multiple times. Books that stand up to multiple readings, that many people will reread and recommend for many years. Those are rare classics, but they should not be the exception, they should be the norm, especially in our industry where God supercedes any and all other considerations. And I’ve pretty much been beating this same horse with varying intensity from the beginning.

The practical problems with this idea are myriad, of course, but tonight I’m encouraged: the sheer volumes of people saying this now are very fun to see. I mean, it used to be just Dave. J

And tell you what, the best part may be that the industry watchers are watching. It can only continue to spread to the general public like a bad virus, infecting everyone with its Glorious Appearing. (Consider that a little promotion to balance my shameless picking on Jerry).

Flannery says, “The fact is that the materials of the fiction writer are the humblest. Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.” But balance that with this. “A work of art exists without its author from the moment the words are on paper, and the more complete the work, the less important it is who wrote it and why.” And finally, with this. “Today’s audience is one in which religious feeling has become, if not atrophied, at least vaporous and sentimental.”

And I can’t forget Walt Wangerin’s earth-shaking speech at the closing of the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing (do yourself a favor and request it.) The writer’s job is like that of the original Christians, to call meaning out of the void, define the things unspoken, and point the way toward what is greater. Out of the wilderness, we all come, believing that we’ve been called to something higher than this life. And these are weighty responsibilities to consider. Grandiose and even pompous in the eyes of many. But how can we claim less without compromising our very lives and reducing, disrespecting the most expensive sacrifice ever made, a sacrifice made for us? This line of thinking seems destined to be unpopular.

And yet, somehow, it’s catching. And it’s exciting to see. Everyone post your links. Let’s have a group hug.

Sharing is nice

15 thoughts on “Christian Writers and Books of Quality”

  1. >>Out of the wilderness, we all come, believing that we’ve been called to something higher than this life.<< Yes, please, God! LOL Thank you for saying it so well! Hugs to you and all, (((Mick!)))

  2. Deep stuff Mick. Thanks for speaking candidly about what is already swimming around in many minds. The part that really rings true is, “Fiction is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.”

  3. Ya, dat wass I!
    Actually, my comment also included what one might consider trite and crap fiction, too. I’ve reread novels I knew were inferior, knew lacked certain craft elements, knew were simplistic and silly in parts, just cause they worked on a particular level. Of course, those you can’t reread too often, cause the crappy bits do loom larger upon every read.
    I will not name names. Do not ask. ; )
    Oh, and Mick, you got a messed up link. Should be:
    Thanks for the mention. I do so live seeing my name bandied about in nice folks’ blogs. :D
    Mir<--reading a fabulous but NEW novel, the sort that makes me think, "I wish I was smart and clever and talented enough to write this baby."

  4. Ah, that Wangerin address… now, if that doesn’t make you want to write great things, nothing will (I admit, I cried during that address, it was so beautiful and inspiring.)
    And, hey, I just read that Flannery quote last night, as I’m knee-deep in Mystery and Manners.
    So, count me in on the group hug.

  5. How depressing if you got the word “the” or “a.”
    If you got “to” or “from”, you could be a Christsmas label for Halloween. :)
    I’d want a really cool word if I were going to go under the tattoo needle for a writer. Serendipity or cosmic or mythological or iconoclast….but I’d probably end up with “then.”

  6. Mick, you’re killing me. I’d love nothing better than a recording of Wangerin’s speech. Thing is, he’s not on the order form, and indeed, we are told: “Please note we are unable to distribute recordings of the keynote lectures per the authors’ requests.”
    Aauurrgghh!! Any ideas? Anyone?

  7. True art touches places inside us that words alone cannot go. Jesus taught with authority. Have you ever wondered what it would’ve been like to hear Jesus preach? I imagine it like standing in the Galleria in Florence, staring at the sculpture of David and wondering if he really is breathing, because the room is so alive and God is so clear and present that you can scarcely catch your own breath. This is inspired art.
    Walk through the rest of the Galleria and you’ll see some very well sculpted pieces by other artists, but none that take your breath away. None that somehow show you the conflict between boyhood and manhood captured in the two sides of its face; none that release into the very atmosphere the divine tension of looking to God for our help vs. looking to man, being caught between the realities of heaven and earth.
    When words can take us to these places; when reading a work that’s been inspired takes us somewhere and leaves us altered – where our breath leaves our chest, and our spirits are left challenged by what has just taken place in us – that’s art. It becomes more than just words on a page. These are the words we return to, the ones we highlight and quote from and recommend to our friends. Why? Because we’ve found something that has changed us, and we can’t help but share it.
    Mick, I’m not interested in blowing smoke up your pant legs, but I want you to know that what you write in your blog does that for me. It resonates with things deep in my heart, and deep in the heart of God – the quest for true freedom, in writing and in worship and in the fully lived life, and I so appreciate what you do. Your boldness and candor are refreshing with a decided lack of sensationalism. The truth of your heart’s desire comes through on the page (screen) and it gives me hope. So, thank you. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing.