Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

new Donald Miller: Through Painted Deserts

I just got back from the hospital--an experience I wrote briefly and poorly about in a reply to a comment from the last posting (if anybody cares about such things.) I am tired and choked up, fuzzy and unsure. Yet, this is my life--I am with my dying father-in-law and come back to the house, which is in the same building as the bookstore, and I can't help myself. Gotta see what came in today. After 23 years, the big UPS boxes and smaller padded envelopes from the mail person, still feel a bit like Christmas.

So I have to tell ya: today was a winner. Some good stuff, brand new and nifty, stacked up all over the place. Keep checking back here as I might tell you about some.

One, though, needs blogged about here and now, late as it may be. Telling you about this may be helpful to you and it will surely lift my spirits.

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road by Donald Miller, is the long-awaited re-issue of his first book. For those who don't know, Donald Miller is the hipster, evangelical counterpart to Anne Lamott and writes (usually) like a dream. Funny, a bit jaded, stream-of-consciousness, dripping with post-modern irony, and then not, clever, clever and then plain as day. Honest. Really, really enjoyable, and pretty insightful, too, for being 20-something. His books Blue Like Jazz (and the better, next one, Searching for God Knows What) have got the biggest buzz sort of thing going we've seen in years and years. Everywhere we go we hear people talking. Sometimes, people even buy them from us. And then they come back and buy more.

As well they should. I swear we were among the first to cheer for his first pretty good book--parts were truly great--that we so enjoyed. It was called Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance and we reviewed it at our monthly book review column, back before we were ever on line. (In those days, the review was in a lovely little newsletter published mostly for the staff of the Coalition for Christian Outreach, a campus ministry outfit around Pittsburgh.) Oddly, few really knew that the title was a play on the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance so they didn't get the pun from the git-go. And, Miller was post-moderny Gen X before evangelical-dum knew there was such a thing.

My friend Terry Glaspy is a genius reader and writer who works for a, shall we say, less than scholarly publishing house, known for cheesy gift books and bad romances. Terry gets some fine writers on board with this low-end company and has steadily made them a better house. I am glad for his fidelity there and when he called me, years ago, and said they had secured the manuscript for a guy smart enough to riff on ZatAofMM I took his word for it. I read it early, wrote about it with gusto and, despite the couple I sold to CCO staff, it went out of print. Terry, as is sometimes the case, broke a great author, and a bigger publisher--Thomas Nelson--made him famous. (He doesn't really seem like a Word-Nelson author to me, either, but that is another story...)

Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What really are finely written, memoiristic ruminations, and a joy to behold. This brand new edition of Prayer and the Art... with its new title, is considerably re-written, expanded, revised. And the cover is a stunner. It really looks like the kind of book you ought to have laying around, if you know anybody under, like, 30. It is going to be a bohemian, Christian classic. And that isn't a bad thing. It really is about him driving around and praying for his too-often breaking down VW van. If you want to check him out, go to www.Bluelikejazz.com or www.theburnsidewriterscollective.com. But please motor back here and order 'em from us.

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road Donald Miller (Nelson) $13.99