This is the book I just finished - and sad I am that I can no longer look forward to reading it. I actually put it away when I was about three-fourths through it because I didn't want to say good bye to it. But this evening, it was chilly outside and inside, and rather than complain about the cold, I decided to wrap up in a comforter and read.
I first discovered the book at a local bookshop and was surprised to see that the author is Kieth Merrill. He's well known around here as a filmmaker (Legacy, Testaments, IMAX movies and church videos). This is his first book, but I'm sure it won't be his last because he's a gifted writer. He's also a distant cousin on my Stevenson side - I listened to him talk at a Walker family reunion a few years ago. Maybe that's why I picked up the book and started to read.
Oh, he is amazing at detailed descriptions. And at imagining a location or scene. And expressing the inner thoughts of some very thoughtful characters. He writes conversation wonderfully - you know, the kind of writing that you read without noticing that it's conversation. For me, writing that you don't notice is good writing.
Here's a sample. I'm typing it right from the book, because I want to demonstrate his way with words. In this chapter, the artist is talking to a former professor about his lack of faith and and his fear of creating a painting depicting the miracles of Jesus:
"Believe beyond your doubts. What was it you used to say to me all the time about your fanciful creations?"
"I can paint whatever I imagine and believe whatever I paint."
"How much more powerful might it be if belief came before imagination? I appreciate that may be difficult, given 'the comfortable ambiguity of agnosticism'?" He repeated the expression Thomas had used.
"Acknowledge that your talent is a gift from God and thank him for it. Ask for his help so you can perform at the extreme edge of your ability" Here was a man who had that elusive something called faith. A man who truly believed.
Even if you are unable to believe," Andrus said finally, "at least open yourself to the possibility of the divine beauty your masterwork deserves."
The rim of golden light on the old man's face, the quiet resonance of this voice, the dark pools of his eyes and unguarded sharing of things most personal caused a stirring within Thomas.