Non Fiction

Review: God is Disappointed in You

God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing readers of this book should know is that it really is an abridged version of the Bible and not a mockery of it. The title and the funny doodle might turn some away who’re looking for a serious work that tells you the stories in the Bible without patronization but I think the author does a good job here of striking a balance between appreciation for and examination of the lessons the old Book has to teach us.

I’d forgotten many of the stories (not being a Christian and having read it out of curiosity at sixteen) but with the illustrations and the funny narrative it’ll be a long time before I forget them again. This is a book that’ll tell you the stories simply, keeping the essence of the morals from the original. But readers should be warned that the author has not only rendered the stories in modern tongue but retold them through the lenses of modern sensibilities a well.

My history professor tells us that we shouldn’t judge actors of times past from contemporary perspective just because we know what turn history takes subsequently. While I agree with him completely, in a book like this that very same ‘fallacy’ makes the narrative even more relateable to a reader like me who is less interested in the spiritual value of the tales and more focused on the bits of history that is hidden between the lines.

For instance I’m looking into this online course on the Rise and Fall of Jerusalem and reading the Old Testament was excellent preparation for it. I’ll have to refer to the unabridged version to study quotes but as far as well connected narrative goes, I’m keeping God is Disappointed in You right beside me.

The final word of appreciation I can give this book is the effort made by the author to keep the stories flowing and somehow preventing them from mixing up in my head. The personality he gave the well known characters was absent when I’d read my school’s hard-bound copy of the Bible. This is also the reason that certain momentous hours held more meaning and evoked more emotions in me than the original ever did.

This book is by no means the best abridged version out there, but it’s one of the more entertaining and therefore more engaging retelling of the old parables.

Now, a short note on the only thing that seriously annoyed me: The illustrations (doodles?). Sometimes they were funny and worked in concert with the text and sometimes they were just random and seemingly unconnected with the story the author was telling. I wish a different artist had been chosen or a better job of editing had been done. They added very little to my enjoyment of the book.

amazon.com

The Journal of Best Practices (by David Finch): A review!

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better HusbandThe Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David Finch wrote an essay while taking a writing workshop. It was on his marriage and his struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome. New York Times picked it up and published it on May, 2009, under the Modern Love column.
If you want an idea of what this book deals with or want to gauge how serious or humorous his tone of narrative is, read the article –>http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/fas…┬áPart of that article ended up as the first page of the book.

By the time I finished the book I loved David and I loved Kristen. As much work as it must be for Kristen to understand David and help him while he tries to improve their marriage through his own metamorphosis, the woman seriously lucked out. I can’t imagine a husband more in love with his wife and I can’t imagine a wife more supportive and patient (mostly) with her husband. Because David needed a lot of patience and maybe most other women would have done exactly what David feared – give up on him and leave.

But the night David and Kristen realised, five years into a marriage that had fallen apart for reasons they couldn’t grasp, that David had Asperger’s…instead of packing and leaving, Kristen went to bed with a lighter heart, finally understanding why David did so many inexplicable and apparently selfish things. And David sat up deep into the night finally understanding himself.

I know nothing about Asperger’s but if someone had asked me I would have only said that it’s a form of Autism and probably severely impairs the person’s ability to socially interact. I would not have been wrong, but so very far from right. There is so much about Asperger’s I didn’t know and so much I didn’t understand. David is just one case. His autism is relatively mild. There are so many, many cases where the same dysfunctionality manifests itself differently, uniquely.

David Finch’s book humanises it and makes it something other a severe disability that only the unfortunate are born with.

I hope he writes more. Other than the subject of the book which basically covered the first 18 months after his diagnosis, what captured me was how easily he described simple everyday frustrations that even I (a neurotypical) can easily relate to and empathise with. The narrative was light and funny and introspective and never lagged in pace and never lost the rhythm of story-telling.

Amazon link: The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband

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