Oh geez, I finished this a while ago... I really need to update this account more. This is just a placeholder - I really loved this book, and I'll comOh geez, I finished this a while ago... I really need to update this account more. This is just a placeholder - I really loved this book, and I'll come back to do a more substantive review later!...more
Kyle: All right, let’s see. Milk, eggs. Cookies. More cook- whoa, am I having a flashback?
[The supermarket is washed away by visual wavy lines, resettKyle: All right, let’s see. Milk, eggs. Cookies. More cook- whoa, am I having a flashback?
[The supermarket is washed away by visual wavy lines, resettling into the remains of what appears to be a café in a war-ravaged city.]
Kyle: If this is happening because Neil Gaiman is attempting to capitalize on another obscure mythical being, so help me –
Sidney: Hello. Or should I say, guten tag?
Kyle: Oh! Sidney. What’s going on? Where are we?
[He sits and begins munching on leftover cookies on the table.]
Sidney: We are in Germany, but the when is important as well. It is, in fact, the summer of 1945.
Kyle: I am not a huge fan of the mixing of this place with that year, either in reality or in weird literary daydreams.
Sidney: Never fear, we are perfectly safe. You are just here as a byproduct of my uncanny ability to make factual surroundings seem intense and alive.
Kyle: Well, it’s not the war that I’m afraid of. It’s just that…well, how do I say this? Books about American heroes in this period seem to either read like textbooks or ridiculous propaganda. How in the world did you manage to find a middle ground, especially in a story about the theft of art and relics?
Sidney: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I simply wrote what was there.
Kyle: Yeah, but you wrote it so well! Over and over, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I am so involved in the non-fiction story about recovering lost relics.” There were so many opportunities for this work to utterly derail into minutia about history or unrelenting apologizing for one of the worst atrocities known to mankind, but you really stuck to your target beautifully.
Sidney: As you may read about me on my page or even on the blog I created for this work, history is important to keep accurately. The story was just too important to let it be bogged down with anything else. I tried to keep things professional, as you might notice. If nothing else, my book jacket photo ought to have told you that.
Kyle: It did, and more. I felt like I was right in the middle of Lt. Horn’s investigation, picking up clues and trying to figure it out along with him. Really, the fascinating thing was knowing what I’ve learned in history and comparing it to what was going on – this really was a completely different take on what followed the war than I’ve seen before. Where I felt you really felt like you went the extra mile was in characterization. I know you had to pull it all from correspondence, interviews, and reports. It was a ton of work, I’m sure, but you built each person into incredibly complex people, with wants and problems – completely more interesting than any fictional soldier I’ve ever read. Many times, I’d think, “Wow, it’s weird that he’d include that,” about a revelation of a character, but then later, I’d be grateful for how well I could understand his motives.
Sidney: Peter Graves can eat his heart out. What you see in movies and TV isn’t always accurate. These were real people, and had more to them than just a 30-second backstory about a wife waiting at home and such and oh yes, perhaps they have a drinking problem, or maybe play the trombone or something.
Kyle: And their interactions were ridiculously interesting. It is pretty obvious that you know your way around a scene, and have worked with screenwriters in the past. I know you had to reconstruct a lot from reports, but even those notes brought so much life to the story I couldn’t believe it. In fact, my only gripe with the storytelling came at the few points where it seemed like the reports contained a really compelling narrative and you knew it, and I knew it, but there was just no way to really bring it together except for having been there.
Sidney: There were definitely points that could’ve been strengthened by being a little more creative with the story, but my duty here was to fact. There’s been enough speculation about these things already.
Kyle: I totally agree. I love that this story had such a great amount of intrigue and respect for the artifacts Horn was after, and even with the huge amount of conjecture and rather dark theory going around about the people involved, there was so much that can be backed up with documentation and actual observation. Mike Mignola isn’t entirely making it all up?
Sidney: Mike Mignola? Was he a part of the Axis?
Kyle: Er, nevermind. Either way, the story is really well told. It was a fantastic journey of an unsung hero of both the Allied and German cultures with all the mystery and adventure of the first and third Indiana Jones movies.
Sidney: Heh, Jones wishes his adventures were this interesting. Every bar story he has is just “Oh, I saved a long lost artifact with some implausible whip-cracking and ridiculous banter with a female and rescued my hat/female and –“
Kyle: Wait, you mean he’s real?
Sidney: Oh! Of course not. [under his breath] Not according to any reports you’ve read, anyway.
Kyle: …Right. So, my only other problem is this cover. Is there anything you could’ve done to keep people from staring at me in the library for holding a book covered in giant bold type reading “Hitler” and “Holy Relics,” separated by a swastika?
Sidney: Oh and look at the time, I must be off. Something…, uh, historic is happening in… Russia. Yes. Russia.
[Sidney makes his exit, and visual wavy lines again reveal the supermarket.]
Kyle: Hey! Come back here, Kirkpatrick! I’m not done with you! The least you could do is leave me some of those fictional cookies!...more
Excuse me. Yes, you. I’m sorry, do you have a minute? I just… no, I’m not selling anything. I just wanted to take a minute to share how I came to faitExcuse me. Yes, you. I’m sorry, do you have a minute? I just… no, I’m not selling anything. I just wanted to take a minute to share how I came to faith in Kevin Roose.
See, I consider myself a Christian. I was brought up in a protestant household, went to church every week, dressed up and sang the songs. I was just a part of the group, an operator in the fullest sense of connecting from the earth to the heavens.
But one day, I was struck by the realization that not everyone was like me. Not everyone even wanted to be a part of this group, and some even outright disliked the group I was a part of. I felt bruised, but more, I felt like if this was the case, then somewhere, something had gone wrong. I was depressed and bewildered.
Left in this nebulous cloud, I found a copy of Roose’s “The Unlikely Disciple,” upon the recommendation of a few of my “outside” friends. I started tentatively after reading about his background and where he intended to spend a semester. Liberty University isn’t near and dear to my heart by any stretch, but I know several people who attended there. “Geez, not only is this kid from Brown,” I thought,”he’s intelligent. This book is going to be just page after page of riffing on creationism and hermeneutics.”
I’m going to be honest, sir, I came in skeptical. I came in thinking that there was no way these groups could be peacefully reconciled and still make anything even close to an entertaining read. At best, it could be a completely neutered journal. At worst, it would be venomous.
Then Kevin Roose’s life touched my own. I don’t mean the heavens opened up – no angels sang or beams of light shone. I mean, his clear journalistic style and what’s more, his honesty in his experience showed me what had been missing all along. I poured through the book in a few days, eager to share, grimacing over some of the gross illogic at Liberty and being continually amazed that Roose blends so well with a group that tries so hard to be exclusive. He managed to compile what seems to me like the truest account, almost an ethnography, of the world of intense Christian youth. He pushed to reach into others’ lives and become a part of the experience, and along the way showed that the thing that’s missing in both groups – in all groups, really – is honest communication.
Roose’s sincere investment into those lives and insightful commentary on his own experience and those of others gave me hope. Though he’s not a religious writer (and, truth be told, I’m not that heavily invested), I’m certainly following his work. Just the idea that a writer is able to be so bold in his notes and still keep his mind sensitive and, more importantly, his own, lets me look forward to a time when more of us can honestly talk without cutting into each other.
And so I’d like to ask now if you’d be interested in letting Kevin Roose into your life, just taking a couple minutes and even reading the book jacket, just the back cover?
Oh – you, oh, you’re still working through those Twilight books. No, I understand. Next time, perhaps. ...more