Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Lost Mission - Day 3
Here we are, last day of the CSFF Blog Tour for Athol Dickson's thought-provoking novel, Lost Mission. (My previous posts can be read here: Day 1 and Day 2.)
As other reviewers have stated, there is several days'-worth of material we could cover. Dickson weaves together many themes and raises questions about faith and morality, compassion and discipline, legality and God's will.
(Just an aside: There are a lot of folks out there who claim to know God's will, and who are quite vocal about telling the rest of us what that is, but their lives just aren't matching up to what I can read for myself in the Bible. Therefore, why would I go to them for advice about following Him? Besides, God can speak to me Himself.)
In my previous post, I discussed some of the thoughts that were raised when I read Lost Mission, and I had planned on exploring more of them, such as Del's rigidness that makes him use Scripture as a bludgeon, or Tucker's behind-the-back dealings as a way to get what he wants while still helping the people in his neighborhood. There's Fray Guillermo, who is much like Del, concerned about his wealth and about everyone else's discipline, whether it is necessary or not; and Fray Benicio whose understandable but misguided passion for good works is akin to Tucker's; then, caught between them, there's Fray Alejandro, whose unfortunate features find a mirror in Lupe's scars.
But I've decided instead to ruminate upon the writing itself. It's a touch old-fashioned, but in a good way. Dickson uses "third-person omniscient" point of view in the structure of the story (this allows him to slide smoothly from one century to another, from one character to another, though it does distance the reader from the story), but he also employs "third-person limited" inside individual scenes, allowing the reader to "view" the story for a time inside the thoughts and senses of a particular character (this draws the reader close, makes him a participant in the story). However, the writing is so good that it's low-key. It doesn't get in the way of the story itself.
That may not seem like a selling point to most readers, but I'm also an editor, and when I can become so lost in a story that I forget to look at the mechanics, it's gotta be good writing. Don't mean to sound like I'm "all that" -- it's just that the nitpickiness of editing can sometimes rob my joy in simply reading.
"But what's the story about?" you may ask. Well, I'm not gonna tell you -- and don't rely on the Amazon.com blurb! Be prepared for a time-bending, thought-provoking, attention-grabbing novel that doesn't rely on whiz-bang action scenes or grandiose plot twists, but instead reminds me of an old storyteller with a seamed face and age-gnarled hands who sits on the edge of the plaza and simply begins telling his tale. And the very inflection of his words, the gentle twinkle in his eye, draws a crowd who forget they are listening to a story and instead begin to live it.
For other opinions, insights, discussions, or reviews, visit these other sites on the tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul