Finished The Shack . . . Started The Book Thief

So, I finished The Shack last night, and I continued to be mostly unimpressed with it, much to the dismay of many of my friends and colleagues. Truth be told, there were several learning moments that were worthy of further thought and introspection, and I am glad to have had the chance to think about God in those ways for a brief bit. However, I remained put off by the feeling that Young was convinced he had all the answers, and he used this character Mack's seeking as a tool to spout off those answers - to teach us, as it were. The whole book was lacking in plot, character development, and direction and overloaded with poorly written didactic lecture. I basically just could not sympathize with the characters because they were so thinly drawn, and the plot was not strong enough to keep it driving. That said, I will restate that Young did offer quite a few thoughtful points, and I am glad to have encountered them.

Now, I'm just 37 pages into The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and I am already thrilled. I had to reread the prologue to really settle myself into this narrative device and style, and now I am reveling in the use of word, the subtle descriptions, the uncanny and skillful writing that has captivated me from the start. A few small examples:

I was just about to leave when I found her kneeling there.
A mountain range of rubble was written, designed, erected around her. She was clutching a book.

If you can't imagine it, think clumsy silence. Think bits and pieces of floating despair. And drowning in a train. (21)

When the train pulled into the Bahnhof in Munich, the passengers slid out as if from a torn package. (25)

The buildings appear to be glued together, mostly small houses and apartment blocks that look nervous. There is murky snow spread out like carpet. There is concrete, empty hat-stand trees, and gray air. (27)

Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon. (30)

Not leaving: an act of trust and love, often deciphered by children. (37)

I won't do this for every 37 pages, but - wow - I am without breath at how unique and strong and fine this writing is.

Thank you, Tim Chakwin, for making this your summer reading last year and bringing it to my attention.

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