(written in collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings)
“The Shack” becomes a journey of self-exploration as Mack, a less than stellar father, confronts his grief and guilt after immeasurable pain involving the murder of his young daughter. He flounders for some time after her unsolved death, going through the minimal motions of living, until one day he receives a letter (supposedly from God) which draws him to a shack in the woods near where his daughter may have met her end.
What happens in “The Shack” may challenge the reader’s beliefs on several levels. It has certainly been a controversial book, both embraced as a life-changing work and denounced as a slam against Christianity and the Bible in its non-traditional depiction of the Holy Trinity.
To non-believers interested in the basis for the phenomenon surrounding this bestselling novel: while some would say that it is theology based, one cannot assign “The Shack” to any particular church or doctrine. It has overlapping spiritual themes, borrowing from (and occasionally attacking) many philosophies. “Where tragedy confronts eternity…” the tagline on the front cover, seemed overly dramatic, but for the most part, the book did not sink to unrealistic phrasing and platitudes. The overall message is love for all, forgiveness for all, no matter what.
An earlier version of “The Shack” was written by Young as a Christmas present, printed at an office supply store and handed out to his family and friends. Jacobsen and Cummings heard about the book, helped rewrite it and arranged to have 10,000 copies printed. First self-published in 2007 and sold out of Young’s garage in 2008, “The Shack” now has over 20 million copies in print, making it one of the biggest bestsellers in history. Young, Jacobsen and Cummings have since parted ways, with Young retaining rights to the book and Cummings and Jacobsen in control over what will happen with the movie, just released.
Readers may love the book for its themes of acceptance and spirituality in the face of awful circumstances, while others may hate it because it doesn’t follow a particular religious doctrine or that it disparages some age-old, deeply held beliefs.
Now that “The Shack” is back on the bestseller list, it is sure to enliven conversation about God. Who is He/She? What does it mean to believe in God? How is that demonstrated? Do the events in the book unfold in a way that is true to what has been taught in your place of worship? I doubt that readers who believe in a Higher Power could remain neutral about “The Shack.”
Please visit www.wmpaulyoung.com for information about the author.
The Hammett Prize is bestowed each year by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). The award will be given for a 2016 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author, in October. The winner receives the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.
The nominees for this year are listed below. Please click on the book title to find out more about the novel.
The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam's Sons)
The White Devil, by Domenic Stansberry (Molotov Editions)
Revolver, by Duane Swierczynki (Mulholland Books)
The Big Nothing, by Bob Truluck (Murmur House Press)
Past winners include:
2015: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin
2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange
2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen
2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis
2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer
2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
Have you read any of the 2016 nominated books? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.
It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.
Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions. *drawing winner
Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included. Click on the titles and read more about them.
“At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon
“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia
“Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon
“Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry
“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
“Persuasion” by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
“Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye
“Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson
“Soulless” by Gail Carriger
“The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye
“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper
“The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
“The Second Coming” by Walker Percy
“The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?
Our work is done. 😉
Photo credit: Patti Phillips
Jen, a T-Rex and the center of the controversy in “Dry Bones,” is the largest specimen of its type ever found and it shows up in Sheriff Walt Longmire’s county. Longmire deals with all kinds of victims, but a dinosaur? That’s a new kind of cold case.
A skeleton of this importance would be a windfall for the local museum, but first Longmire must figure out if the High Plains Dinosaur Museum has the right to claim Jen as its own. When the Cheyenne owner of the ranch where Jen was found turns up dead, things get complicated. It’s possible that the T-Rex belongs to the Cheyenne Nation…or the federal government…or the family of the guy who died.
Tribal rights, family inheritance, federal property or just a really nice set of bones to display? An acting Deputy Attorney is out to make a name for himself and seems to feel that photo ops are more important than catching the bad guys or finding kidnap victims. But, he’s not the only one with priorities a tad off center in "Dry Bones." More people are interested in who gets the dinosaur than the circumstances behind the death of Danny Lone Elk.
With Jen crowding Walt’s holding cells while ownership is being determined, and the interested parties holding Walt’s office hostage, the Sheriff realizes that the only way he can get back to the business for which he was elected is to solve the mystery of Danny Lone Elk’s death and find the gal (also Jen) who discovered the T-Rex to begin with.
It’s a circus.
There are helicopter forays into the back country, harrowing visits to an old mine, entertaining interactions with ever wise-cracking Lucien, Henry Standing Bear saving the day as only he can, and more near misses for Walt than our hearts can stand. Did I mention bullets flying? And the terrifying prospect of Walt taking care of his grand-daughter? He’s not afraid of many bad guys, but the little one? Waaay too funny.
We are treated to Craig Johnson’s dry wit, in several LOL scenes, with Walt’s delivery always perfectly timed. A man of few words, but good ones.
In real life, that entire region of the country is an active dinosaur bone recovery area with several universities and museums conducting legitimate digs. People love a cool dinosaur, so finding the big ones can cement the reputation – and therefore the funding – of an institution for many years.
In “Dry Bones,” Johnson explores the ethics of taking artifacts away from the people upon whose land they were found. It’s not just dino bones that are being removed from their place of origin. World-wide, governments are seeking to recover long lost treasures robbed from centuries old graves, temples, and ruins. Find the treasures? Great. Remove them from the place of origin without permission or proper compensation? These days, that’s a long jail term in the making.
Read Craig Allen Johnson’s Author Profile here.
Read the review of “The Cold Dish” here.
Read the review of “Kindness Goes Unpunished” here.
Please visit www.craigallenjohnson.com for lots of information about Mr. Johnson and his work, his future appearances, and his online store.