Book Review~~Letters & Life

Over the weekend I read letters & life~~on being a writer, on being a Christian by Bret Lott. Not necessarily a writer of Christian literature, but of novels and short stories. He is a believing artist living as a citizen. I devoured this book in a few hours because I've often asked myself the same question he answers so well in this book and because there was nothing else to do on a frigid Saturday afternoon.
As a Christian do I have to write only Christian blog posts or articles or in his case, books, or can I write as a Christian living as a citizen that doesn't write Christian?
Bret Lott is a Christian who writes books for a world wider than the community in which he operates daily. Two questions he has had to reckon with over the years.
  1. What is the relationship between the believing artist and the public square?
  2. How might the artist's quest to understand what it means to be human influence the way church and society address one another?
He ends his first chapter quoting Proverbs 16:3 and a question.
For whom do you write? And are you willing?
When it comes to book reviews I'm not very good at being concise, trying to put in a few words what I thought the author was trying to say. This book is a memoir of his writing life and the path he took as he wrote while his father was dying. One brief paragraph gave me enough to chew on for a while. It is his thoughts regarding Christian fiction. If you know me well, I don't read much fiction. Occasionally, if I can find an author who does not use much language and vulgarity, I love a great mystery. I do like Francine Rivers and Terri Blackstock for Christian fiction, but beyond that there are too many christian love stories written that are not real life, encouraging women, young and old, to leave their spouses in the dust while they get lost in the black and white,  'happily ever after' love stories that never happen in real life.  He said the following where he was the speaker for an annual book awards ceremony for best Christian novels published the year before.  He was the odd man out that evening because he doesn't write Christian fiction.
I fear we live in a day when we are feeding Christian fiction as a child feeds on milk. Unless we create fiction that does more than simply entertain the troops--unless we make room within the Christian writing industrial complex for writers to create worthy work--art--that in its craftsmanship and vision challenges the heart and soul and mind of our readers--then we will be nothing more than happy clowns juggling for one another.
His goal as a writer is "not to just sell books and give the reader what they want to hear but to craft(write) something that might challenge and surprise and unseat the reader from his throne of ME." And he begins with himself. Where I want to start everyday...unseating ME.
A writer is to be humble and get oneself out of the way. BL

2 thoughts on “Book Review~~Letters & Life”

  1. Love the “then we will be nothing more than happy clowns juggling for one another” because that’s how I feel about so many Christian writings at times. Great review and post, Jody!

  2. Both yours and Bret’s comments are accurate, but are not limited to the writer to whom Bret’s book is addressed. Each one of us need to unseat ME everyday, every moment of everyday. Great post!

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