August 26th, 2013 – Wake up. Drive to the hospital. Get anesthetized. “Sleep” while doctors cut a surgically-implanted steel bar out of my chest.
August 26th, 2014 – Wake up. Enjoy a cup of Yorkshire Gold and the conversation of good friends around the breakfast table. Work 9 to 5 on a prospering internship. Call a certain and very special girl on the phone and say, “I love you.”
God is good.
“People wonder why the novel is the most popular form of literature; people wonder why it is read more than books of science or books of metaphysics. The reason is very simple; it is merely that the novel is more true than they are. Life may sometimes legitimately appear as a book of science. Life may sometimes appear, and with a much greater legitimacy, as a book of metaphysics. But life is always a novel. Our existence may cease to be a song; it may cease even to be a beautiful lament. Our existence may not be an intelligible justice, or even a recognizable wrong. But our existence is still a story. In the fiery alphabet of every sunset is written, ‘to be continued in our next.’” – G.K. Chesterton
“When the sugarcane’s burning and the rabbits are running, look for the boys who are quicker than flame…”
Every now and again you get your hands on a book that feels older than it really is. The pages are appley crisp, the publishing date not long past, but you’d swear there’s an old soul humming inside the polished dust jacket. I felt that way about N.D. Wilson’s first novel, Leepike Ridge, and I feel that way about his latest, Boys of Blur.
It takes a special kind of nerve to mix football, Beowulf, panthers, and grave-robbing into any kind of coherent narrative, let alone one with emotional tonnage, but NDW – like his father, never lacking in the Chutzpah Dept. – does both in Boys of Blur. It’s a parable and a romp. I do wish the Gren were allotted more “screen time”, and a few of the plot points could’ve used more time in the oven. Despite these faults, I liked the story enormously, and it grows on me even now, a week after finishing it. There’s something Wilson has always had going for him: staying power.
His writing, too. There are scenes rendered with such magic and perfection – boys gone rabbit-hunting through fiery cane fields, Charlie chasing a panther across a crowded football stadium – that they seem immediately aged, enduring as Tom Sawyer and whitewashing and fences.
I mentioned Beowulf. Wilson tips his helm more than once to that ancient saga, especially near the end. Boy, was that delicious. “Thanks to my pops,” Wilson writes in the acknowledgements, “for first introducing me to Beowulf and the growling rhythms of Anglo-Saxon, and for his own brilliant verse rendering.”
I’ll drink to that. Pass the mead.
“Your father made mistakes. We all do. But instead of working to set things right, he chose to protect those mistakes – he let them be. He even fed them, which made them so much worse. Mistakes don’t just hang on the wall like ugly pictures. Mistakes are seeds.” He thumped his chest. “In here. They grow. They take over. You make a mistake, you gotta make it right. Dig that seed out. Old Wiz used to say, ‘Fruit rots, wood rots, but lazy-ass boys rot the fastest.”
- N.D. Wilson, Boys of Blur (pp. 50-51)