Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From Away by David Carkeet

From Away by David Carkeet
Published by Overlook Press

Summer is here and I have gotten a bit slack on posting but the good news is that I have done a lot of reading!

I got this book because it looked like it was going to be a funny story. I wanted something humorous. However, I was worried within the first few paragraphs that perhaps I had stumbled upon a strange and vulgar type of comedy. I almost didn't continue to read it. But once I got into it, it was a very fast-paced and different read. If you have ever read the A Confederacy of Dunces by Jonathan Kennedy Toole, you will be very happy with From Away.

My Impressions

At first, the main character seems to be an odd sort who really does march to a different tune. His main interest in life is model trains. In fact, he works for a magazine that covers that very subject (a job which he eventually loses but I won't give the final details here). To say that he is obsessed is to put it lightly and he is definitely misunderstood by everyone. Until he ends up in the town of Montpelier, Vermont. Due to a set of unfortunate accidents, strange plot devices and the tendency of the locals to make assumptions, Dennis is mistaken and begins impersonating the life of Homer Dumpling, a much-loved local who has been away for a few years. This is where I began turning the pages, just waiting to see him get "caught" as Homer. The most humorous parts are how he is able to bluff his way through these events. Meanwhile, folks are searching for the real Denny as he is suspected of murdering a local "colorful" woman. The book then turns out to be mystery. So, in the backdrop of the impersonation and the murder, the emerging details of the lives of both Denny and Homer are poignantly framed. 

The book is very well written but not exactly a PG rating. However, even those "scenes" actually became quite humorous, really reminding me of a Pink Panther movie with Inspector Clouseau. I was very satisfied with novel as a whole and would highly recommend it. 

From a Faith Perspective

From a faith perspective, the book really made me think of our identity: being ourselves, finding ourselves and discovering whose we are.

How are we, as Christians, taught and encouraged to just be ourselves? How well have we accepted even those oddballs in our congregations? Do we as people of faith seem odd to those on the outside of our Christian community? And shouldn't we be seen as a bit odd?

Must we take on other identities in order to find ourselves? I think this is what we find in many our youth groups: teens struggling to figure out who they are by acting like other people (celebrities and friends). It takes Denny the opportunity of becoming Homer in order to have confidence in himself as well as helps others appreciate him. Another character (who shall remain nameless so I don't give away too much) also discovers himself by shedding the person everyone expects him to be.

And in the end, I think of how we, as Christians, must discover whose we are. That is the missing link in the book but a thought we can all process while reading From Away.

Happy Reading!


Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

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