epub The Crooked Man's Mile

Book description

I was in a quandary about how to rate this book.

This is the kind of story you think about long after you’ve put it down. The sort of book you can hardly wait to get back to. When I finished it, I was sorry it was over but delighted with the way it wrapped up.

The characters vibrate with three-dimensional realism. When you meet them you say, “Hey, I know that guy!” or, “Oh, yeah, I remember her from grade school.” Even the minor characters are multi-dimensional and have believable motives; there’s not a cardboard cut-out in the bunch.

The descriptions are so clear you have no trouble envisioning the scenes. The story has such depth and resonance you have to keep reminding yourself it’s fiction.

Speaking of resonance, let’s look at the title, which sublimely suggests a combination of the child’s nursery rhyme and the traditional prayer about not judging another until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. The man in the story is crooked in body and soul, but by walking in his shoes, the reader becomes a bit less critical of people who don’t fit the accepted standard of "normal." All this flows easily and comfortably, worming its way into the heart without grating or sermonizing.

So why not five stars? Here's the thing: when I first began reading, I wanted to get out my critiquer’s pen and start slicing and dicing. Technically speaking, according to all the things we’re taught about what’s good writing and what we should avoid, this is not a particularly well-written book. There are many difficulties, ranging from too much “telling” at the beginning to misuse of words and minor spelling and grammatical errors, bouncing around from one time frame to another, and (gasp!) the dreaded omniscient point of view.

Yes, I know; omniscient is a legitimate viewpoint in literature, and it’s been so down through the ages. Personally, I happen to like it. But for some reason it’s frowned upon by many in the publishing industry today, and new writers are discouraged from using it lest their work be summarily dismissed by those who are supposedly in the know. As a result, when I'm critiquing or judging and get a submission written in omniscient POV, I recommend the writer change it.

However. I hadn’t gotten very far into this story before all those things fell by the wayside, much as you'd shed that jacket you needed in the morning but as the day goes on, it gets too warm. As a writer, I still noticed the issues, but they didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

This author portrays the world honestly, neither whitewashing nor befouling the images. I’ve learned a lot over the years about the craft of writing, and I shouldn't casually toss aside the things I’ve been taught. But more important than skillful technique, as this book showed me, is the story itself.

He's not the most polished author out there, but J. Eric Laing could teach us all a thing or two about telling a story clearly, honestly, and with unfeigned love.

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Book info

Pages count275
File size6.9 Mb
eBook formatKindle Edition, (torrent)En
Book rating4.2 (2 votes)
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