Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Through Painted Deserts, Don Miller's New Old Book

Robb got me this book for my birthday and I have not finished it, because I am savoring it. For me, Don Miller's books are like getting a new set of eyeballs to see things that I have always sensed were there, but I couldn't quite bring them into focus.

Through Painted Desserts is Miller's first book re-released with a new title (I personally liked Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance better) and is saving me the trouble of making a cross country trip to find myself...wait...maybe not. At least it is saving me from sleeping in the back of my car.

I like to eat salty, buttery popcorn with peanut M&M's. The contrast of the salty and sweet is just right. That is the way that Miller writes....one minute salty and critical, the next minute sweet and self-deprecating. As a kid, one of the things that I loved about LM Montgomery (of Green Gables fame) was that she wrote unashamedly about what it felt like to melt for the beauty of a place. Don Miller brings that feeling back for me in "Through Painted Deserts."

The timing of this book is no accident. It is where I live right now. Here's an exerpt...

"And so my prayer for you is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I , and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax, and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, woudn't it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."


Anonymous said...

If you like Don Miller's books you will love a great website -
www.heartsandmindsbooknotes. Booksellers near York, Penn. who also love Don Miller. Check out their book notes for mention of Miller.
Let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

Update on that website - Wednesday August 3, 2005 blog - "New Donald Miller: Through Painted Deserts"
Check out his review.

ness said...

Here's the post for everyone to enjoy:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
new Donald Miller: Through Painted Deserts

I just got back from the hospital--an experience I wrote briefly and poorly about in a reply to a comment from the last posting (if anybody cares about such things.) I am tired and choked up, fuzzy and unsure. Yet, this is my life--I am with my dying father-in-law and come back to the house, which is in the same building as the bookstore, and I can't help myself. Gotta see what came in today. After 23 years, the big UPS boxes and smaller padded envelopes from the mail person, still feel a bit like Christmas.

So I have to tell ya: today was a winner. Some good stuff, brand new and nifty, stacked up all over the place. Keep checking back here as I might tell you about some.

One, though, needs blogged about here and now, late as it may be. Telling you about this may be helpful to you and it will surely lift my spirits.

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road by Donald Miller, is the long-awaited re-issue of his first book. For those who don't know, Donald Miller is the hipster, evangelical counterpart to Anne Lamott and writes (usually) like a dream. Funny, a bit jaded, stream-of-consciousness, dripping with post-modern irony, and then not, clever, clever and then plain as day. Honest. Really, really enjoyable, and pretty insightful, too, for being 20-something. His books Blue Like Jazz (and the better, next one, Searching for God Knows What) have got the biggest buzz sort of thing going we've seen in years and years. Everywhere we go we hear people talking. Sometimes, people even buy them from us. And then they come back and buy more.

As well they should. I swear we were among the first to cheer for his first pretty good book--parts were truly great--that we so enjoyed. It was called Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance and we reviewed it at our monthly book review column, back before we were ever on line. (In those days, the review was in a lovely little newsletter published mostly for the staff of the Coalition for Christian Outreach, a campus ministry outfit around Pittsburgh.) Oddly, few really knew that the title was a play on the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance so they didn't get the pun from the git-go. And, Miller was post-moderny Gen X before evangelical-dum knew there was such a thing.

My friend Terry Glaspy is a genius reader and writer who works for a, shall we say, less than scholarly publishing house, known for cheesy gift books and bad romances. Terry gets some fine writers on board with this low-end company and has steadily made them a better house. I am glad for his fidelity there and when he called me, years ago, and said they had secured the manuscript for a guy smart enough to riff on ZatAofMM I took his word for it. I read it early, wrote about it with gusto and, despite the couple I sold to CCO staff, it went out of print. Terry, as is sometimes the case, broke a great author, and a bigger publisher--Thomas Nelson--made him famous. (He doesn't really seem like a Word-Nelson author to me, either, but that is another story...)

Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What really are finely written, memoiristic ruminations, and a joy to behold. This brand new edition of Prayer and the Art... with its new title, is considerably re-written, expanded, revised. And the cover is a stunner. It really looks like the kind of book you ought to have laying around, if you know anybody under, like, 30. It is going to be a bohemian, Christian classic. And that isn't a bad thing. It really is about him driving around and praying for his too-often breaking down VW van. If you want to check him out, go to www.Bluelikejazz.com or www.theburnsidewriterscollective.com. But please motor back here and order 'em from us.

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road Donald Miller (Nelson) $13.99

ness said...

As usual, my father in law does not dissapoint with his recommendations. (I know, I know....everyone else is groaning for encouraging him....he recommends reading materials within three seconds of getting together...) But he has never steered me wrong. And this blog he recommends is pretty great...written by another very thoughtful and enjoyable bibliophile. I'll be checking this blog on a regular basis. It will make me feel smart.

thanks Poopsie!

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