Okay, I admit, it is a dumb joke. Heather King’s new book, entitled Redeemed, is one I’ve waited for a long, long time. It is here at last. It is called Redeemed. It is here at last. I guess you get it. Duh.
Which puts me into this quandary, one I face often here as the sole writer at BookNotes. We get a new book in, a book I am convinced is important and good and righteous. Or interesting and provocative and fun. Or (truth be told) one I’ve ordered a lot of and my business partner/dear wife wonders how in the world we are ever going to sell all those. And so, I become, as I rather proudly said in a last week’s posting, one who “Hawks for the Kingdom.”
I am aware—as one writer seriously poked at me this week—that I do not usually do what could be considered serious literary or theological review. I am, in the technical sense, not a critic or a theologian. (I do get pretty long-winded over at the monthly review column, though, and that almost counts, does it not?) And so here, I announce. I celebrate. I promote.
I have not read Heather King’s Redeemed book yet. I have worked 15 hours almost straight and have only indulged myself, while I was on hold on the phone, in peeking at the acknowledgments, looking for someone I might know (the beginning of serious review, by the way, placing the thing—read Mortimer Adler if you don’t believe me.) I did review (well, I commented upon briefly as I promoted) her wonderfully written and deeply moving book about her alcoholism, Parched, a year or so ago, and I know she is an honest, high-quality writer. And–get this, if I might namedrop a bit—my pal Lauren Winner told me a bit ago that it was one of the best memoirs she ever read. (Ahem: why she got an advanced reader’s copy but I didn’t is another matter, but I suspect the fine folks at Viking don’t know me much.)
Anyway, the quandary: wait until I have read much of it, perhaps weeks from now, so I can tell you the real truth, my own take, complete with astute observations, or rush to press and celebrate what I am confident will be worth any dollar you spend, even if I haven’t read it yet? I’ve read advance comments, know the vibe, trust the woman, and have that to-die-for comment from Lauren. So, I rush to press. The faceless internet sites have it, and they squeeze off the Publisher’s Weekly reviews, so I don’t want to miss out. This one will be so good that I want to be among the first to honor it with some kind of announcement. Ladies and gentleman, friends of Hearts & Minds, please know that this may be the memoir of the year. This is a beautiful book you’ll enjoy and which may edify.
The subtitle is A Spiritual Misfit Stumbles Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding. See yourself in there somewhere?
Still unsure? Listen to the extraordinary spirituality writer, Ronald Rolheiser, author of the truly great book about deep Christian formation, The Holy Longing, who says,
A story with depth, rare balance, humor, and with a near-perfect eye for what is important, true to the perception that ‘sin, degradation, and scandal aren’t that interesting,’ but ‘conversion is.’ A conversion story along the lines of St. Augustine’s classic. You’ll learn how grace works.
You may know Ms King from her pieces on NPRs All Things Considered. You may recall Parched. Either way, you will not forgot this book. Thanks for trusting us, for being a part of this circle of BookNote friends, who allow me the freedom to promote stuff I sometimes haven’t read yet.
By the way, an obscure little note for those paying close attention. I briefly raved in the last post about the incredible new Shane Claiborne book, Jesus for President, and promised a more thorough review soon. My-oh -my, I can’t wait to explore the complexities and insights of that stunning new book—it’s amazing. Here’s a little connection: Ms. King thanks in that one page I said I read, the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. The LACW is perhaps the most interesting of all the Catholic Worker houses, with a graphically breath-taking, counter-cultural version of the Catholic Worker paper (called The Agitator) which I was quite taken with for a season or so of my journey. I would suggest that Shane & his co-author Chris Haw are the only authors on a CBA publishing house to cite friends at the LA Worker. As does King. See, even in my hawking new books, I’m trying to help make connections, make sense of stuff, place things, spread some mustard seeds, uniting readers of different sorts. In moments like these, I love this job.
If you don’t find it
spectacular I will refund your money, and you can keep the book
How’s that for going out on a limb?
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