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.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Frederick Buechner

What to say, what to say? This is nearly a publishing event, and we are ebullient to tell of it. (Okay, I used the thesarus for once; excited just didn't do this great wordsmith justice.) Dale Brown is the genius behind the extraodinary Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing, held every other year, which brings together the most remarkable array of writers, mostly those working allusively out of a faith tradition. I still remember hearing Katherine Paterson there, and Updike. Here, Professor Brown has given us a great gift, the first major (and happily altogether succesful) study of the work of Frederick Buechner, whom he has enticed to come to Calvin more than once. Entitled The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings (fans will hear the allusion, already in the title), it was just released by Westminister/John Knox ($24.95) in a sturdy, nicely-made hardback. Mr. Buechner himself wrote the forward, an honor that is telling, I think, that he respects Brown so. It covers the entire body of his work--the memoirs, of course, the theology, the sermons, the fiction (yes, the fiction!!) Not every writer deserves such a serious and thorough retrospective, and not every such study can be as inspiring as this one. This is a great match, author and subject.

Here is what the incredibly well-read and very thoughtful Lauren Winner writes on the dust jacket: "This book is, quite simply, a remarkable accomplishment. Readers could not ask for a better engagement with the life and work of one of America's most important, beloved, and versatile writers. Dale Brown probes, questions, illuminates. Perhaps most important, he will doubtless inspire readers to return to their shelves and pull down their favorite Buechner volumes once again."

Do you have a favorite Buechner book? Why not post something here, for those who may not know? Or maybe even to start a friendly debate. Anybody up for a Buechner broil?

For the unintitiated, the daily devotional Listening to Your Life is a fabulous way to dip into his many books, with daily, brief, excerpts of all his varied work. (Harper; $14.95.) I am partial to the third in his four-part memoir (although Telling the Truth, the first I ever read, is still a favorite. Many think his novel Godric (which was nominated for a Pulitzer) is his finest. For anyone who knows even a bit of his long career, this new study will be a must-read.

The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings Dale Brown (WJK) $24.95


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