Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup!
I’ll admit it: my “usual fare” over the past coupla years has been dictated by my lack of cash and the review copies available to me through networking in the Catholic writing community. Even if that community isn’t offering me free books, they are recommending things by PercyO’ConnorTolkienKoontzEtc. This book made me want to aim towards a practice of reading one book each month that is not my usual fare. Man in the Woods is a psychological thriller that deals, among many other things, with the definition of what makes a man a man in our detached, sterile society. Given that theme, it is set in the midst of the Y2K anxieties… and what happens when those anxieties do not reach their dreaded fruition. Paul is a craftsman, a highly sought-after carpenter, who commits a crime of passion, the only witness to which is a stolen dog. Paul is a likable character with flaws and secrets and a doubt-smothered faith that is simultaneously stagnant yet budding under the shadow of his live-in girlfriend’s success as a non-threatening, everything-is-awesome Christian self-help writer, speaker and radio host. Both girlfriend Kate and Paul blunder on against the realities of their choices to act as if all is perfect on the surface when, just beneath the veneer, it most certainly is not.
Warnings: If you’re a reader who can’t handle any hints at pink bits showing, foul language (even though it’s not extraneous and does serve to illustrate character), and you just can’t possibly imagine liking characters who are living in sin, this won’t be the book for you. However, I picked up this book and read it through to the end and am giving it five stars, because it opened a window on the reality of humanity. I doubt even the author knows that the fruits of these characters’ entirely culturally acceptable choices are actually the fruits of, well, sin driving the plot to its inevitable and yet surprising and satisfying end. Well… I say, “satisfying end.” The second warning is that if you don’t like endings that might be just a teensy bit open-ended, you’ll feel cheated by this one’s ending. I, however, LOVE that kind of ending and thought this one was particularly well done.