Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson - the Opening Chapters

I’ve just started to read Gideon Mack this morning and must write about it. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve had to slow my reading down to make sure I read every word. I’m reading this book as part of the From the Stacks Challenge, and cannot think why I haven’t read it before now.

I first came across this book in my local library at the beginning of this year. It was on display on the “Quick Choice” stand. I started to read it and was enthralled. I was disappointed that I couldn’t renew it as someone else had reserved it, so I had to take it back, largely unread. Because I liked what I had read, I decided to buy a copy. However, by the time I could get a copy I was well into reading other books (which ones I can’t remember now), so “Gideon Mack” sat in a pile and gradually got further and further down until I almost forgot about it.

Thanks to the Challenge I remembered that this was a book that I’d wanted to read, or rather had felt compelled to read. So when I finished The Great Fortune by Olivia Manning (post on this to follow when I have time) I picked it up. I’m so glad I did. I’m sure already that it’s going to be one of those books that I’ll be enthusing over for a while yet.

Just a small taster. Gideon Mack, a faithless minister is writing an account of what happened to him. Here he is describing how he feels about running:

“I was somewhere in between – an escapee from my professional hypocrisy, a minister off the leash, a creature neither wholly real nor wholly imagined, hurrying through an ancient landscape. Yes, even then I suspected what I now know to be true: that life itself is not wholly real. Existence is one thing, life quite another: it is the ghost that haunts existence, the spirit that animates it. Running, whether in the rain or sun, felt like life.”

There is so much on a variety of different themes that I’m interested in packed into the opening pages of this book! References to other books (some I’ve read and others I'd like to read); what is life and what is real; belief or non-belief in God; the nature and importance of evidence and facts, that can be misleading or just plain lies, and the slipperiness of truth; the pleasure to be found in the doing of something and not in its completion; reminiscences of one’s early life; not to mention the pleasure of “the glide and flow of nib and ink on paper” and the benefits of writing with a pen over writing on a computer!

I can’t wait to get back to it.


heather (errantdreams) said...

Sounds like a fascinating book; I love the quote you posted.

danielle said...

I'm totally unfamiliar with this author/book. I'll have to check him out now that you have enthused about him. I love those books that come along that you fall into reading and enjoying so easily!

Tara said...

What a wonderful thing to have come across a book you're enjoying so much. I look forward to hearing more about it.

BooksPlease said...

I'm still reading this book. I'm about half-way through it and it looks as though I'm just getting up to the crux of the matter!