Who says that the internet is an impersonal, automaton, non-entity? They are wrong, I tell you, WRONG!!
Some good duck I met on LJ sent me a slew of Lisa Samson titles this week. And, as a follow-up to the worthy Songbird, I was equally impressed with Straight Up and Club Sandwich.
My favourite of the lot so far is Tiger Lillie; about a ( and I quote her ) "Strong Hungarian" singleton who co-ordinates extreme weddings in the Baltimore area. The daughter of an Episcopalian "priest" ( not preacher, she adamantly informs us ), her narrative intersperses her logs of theology and faith. As I am learning is customary with Samson's well-written first narrative ( YAY!... we all know how I hate a badly written first-person ), elements of faith and the prospective hypocrisy of Christianizing the world through organized religion play through.
I enjoyed some of the literary (natch! ) parallels between the carefully constructed episcopalian world of Lillie's blind father and that of her brother-in-law's dictating, cultish, Scientology-like religion founded under the perverse and power hungry con, Alban Cole.
At times violent, disturbing and challenging, Lisa Samson deals with things I thought long hushed in the strict CBA. For example, the unpracticed homosexuality of Lillie's best friend Gilbert, the sexual awakening of Lillie's younger sister Tacy, the saturation of secular "pop-culture" idiosyncrasies, the loose and liberal language and mostly the round-table discussion housing both sides of the "free will" debate.
Samson is definitely fresh and unusual in today's Christian market. She seems to single-handedly redeem so much of what is wrong in its nature and conservative safe-place.
I yearn to rise up onto my soapbox and proclaim "Fear not worthy, intelligent Christian reader!! Though shalt not be subjected to Gilbert Morris and Janette Oke for the rest of time."
I think the face of Christian publishing is slowly revolving. I like to think Dale Cramer is the pioneer of resuscitation when it comes to the refurbishing of the Christian literary world, but I see now I have to include Samson's powerful, pseudo-feministic sprawls as well. She definitely holds her gutsy own.
In Brett Lott's A Song I knew by Heart, I was thrilled to find more than a thread of my favourite story of the Bible: that of Ruth. The aged Naomi and her recently widowed daughter-in-law travel statewide to settle in the South of Naomi's past. Here plenty of skeletons pop out of her seemingly pure closet. With a mixture of heartbreak and subtle grace, I was delighted to find the parallels between the scripture I so love ( that Boaz is just the bomb!!) and a gentleman author who fits nicely in the hub of the Oprah-lore of the past decade.
In kid's lit, I explored the tasty travails of Emmaline Cayley, pioneering aviatrix and her rapscallion, often airborne guinea pig Robert Burns in The Strictest School in the World by Howard Whitehouse Deliciously illustrated and with hilarious captions, this book reads like Lemony Snicket out of Wackford Squeers ( the totalitarian despot disguised as a schoolmaster in the treacherous sequences of "Nicholas Nickleby" ) Emmaline takes flight.... it's charming, fantastical and humorous. Highly recommended to those who share my passion for the neo-Victorianized fantasy world of Horatio Lyle.
The Book without Words by Avi was quite a different experience than the Crispin books I had recently read and loved. Pure fable, Avi teaches his young readers about the power of proverb and parallel. The story of Sybil, Odo the raven and a treacherous alchemist swearing the secret to spinning gold is filled with dramatic irony, creepy foreshadows and spine-tingling terror. Avi's prose is sparse: but decidedly clever words help paint an ambiance that would chill even the most stalwart of readers.
Avi excels in his archaic worlds and this particular fairytale is no exception. His powers often seem limitless.