Tag Archives | HarperCollins

Neverwhere | Neil Gaiman

The cover of Gaiman's NeverwhereNeil Gaiman can do no wrong. From American Gods to The Sandman, from The Ocean at the End of the Lane to Norse Mythology—everything he writes is compelling. Gaiman has the ability to transport you into alternate worlds that feel, despite their fantastical nature, just as real as the chair in which you read them.

In the introduction to this, the Author’s preferred text, Gaiman explains that

I wanted to write a book that would do for adults what the books I had loved when younger, books like Alice in Wonderland, or the Narnia books, or The Wizasrd of Oz, did for me as a kid. (xii)

He succeeded. Neverwhere is the story of the underside of London where people who fall through the cracks live. It’s a place where rats are honored, villains have careers that last for centuries, and character like Door can, well, open doors. Think Narnia only darker and far more dangerous.

To echo the words that Guy Gavriel Kay wrote to first-time readers of The Once and Future King, I envy everyone who has not yet read this book. You have the gift of being able to read Neverwhere for the first time.


Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere. Author’s Preferred Text. New York: William Morrow, 2015.

Borne | Jeff Vandermeer

The cover of Vandermeer's BorneRachel and Wick live in a nightmare. The world they can’t remember—except through drug-like memory beetles inserted into their ears—has been destroyed and abandoned by The Company. Their lives have been reduced to scavenging the debris and detritus of failed biotech experiments. Then Rachel found Borne on the flanks of Mord, a multi-story bear-human hybrid experiment. Did I mention that Mord can fly?

If you’re reading this second paragraph, you might enjoy the New Weird genre described by Rose O’Keefe as “cutting edge speculative fiction with a literary slant.” Vandermeer’s Borne is not meaningless fiction. Publisher’s Weekly elevates it beyond weird fiction. Borne is “weird literature.”

The ethical dilemmas that Rachel and Wick face resonate with those that humanity faces in real life. This is all wrapped in a mystery story that will keep you frantically turning pages until you reach the end.

Like his earlier Southern Reach Trilogy, Borne is a compelling work of New Weird literary fiction that challenges the reader to see the real world in a new light.

 


Vandermeer, Jeff. Borne. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2017.

Sin is an Adverb | Abraham J. Heschel

Abraham J. HeschelTo the prophets, sin is not an ultimate, irreducible or independent condition, but rather a disturbance in the relationship between God and man; it is an adverb not a noun, a condition that can be surmounted by man’s return and God’s forgiveness.

—Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 295.

Obscene Violence | Abraham J. Heschel

Abraham J. HeschelWhen the prophets appeared, they proclaimed that might is not supreme, that the sword is an abomination, that violence is obscene. The sword, they said, shall be destroyed.

—Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 203.

God as Subject | Abraham J. Heschel

Abraham J. HeschelGod is never an “it,” but is constantly given as a personal spirit, manifesting Himself as subject even in the act of thought addressed to Him. Those who objectify Him falsify Him. Those who surrender to Him are approached by Him.

—Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 622.

The Prophets | Abraham J. Heschel

The cover of Heschel's The ProphetsThe Hebrew prophets are fascinating. They were an important part of Israel’s life, yet they often spoke of their rulers in very unflattering terms. When national life turned sour, the prophets were there to interpret geopolitical events from God’s perspective.

History to us is the record of human experience; to the prophet it is a record of God’s experience. (219)

In other words:

Prophecy, then, may be described as exegesis of existence from a divine perspective. (xxvii)

Abraham Heschel’s lengthy study on the prophets is poetic and insightful. The first half of the book is a survey of the various prophets and the main themes that consumed them. If you have ever struggled with reading the prophets, these chapters are a goldmine of information and inspiration.

The second half of the book is concerned with the prophets themselves. How is it that humans can speak for God? The answer centres on Heschel’s idea of God’s pathos. For Heschel, the Holy One of Israel, Maker of heaven and earth, is utterly transcendent. God never reveals himself to humans. Instead, he reveals his pathos.

The pathos of God is his heart of God for man, which takes on various forms such as “love and anger, grief and joy, mercy and wrath” (618). This is what the prophet engages when he or she encounters God. From the perspective of a prophet:

God’s presence is my first thought; His unity and transcendence, my second; His concern and involvement (justice and compassion), my third. (619)

Prophets are so in touch with God, they are able to sympathize with God’s pathos. Matters which may seem small to humans such as imbalanced scales take on cosmic importance when viewed through God’s justice.

The prophets are so moved by their encounters with God that they can seem unhinged to the rest of the world. Unlike the diviners of other contemporary cultures, however, they are not mad. The Hebrew prophets did not lose themselves in some sort of mystical absorption into the divine. Prophets (like Habakkuk, for example) can engage God in dialogue. They bring their own lives into the prophetic process.

I need to challenge Heschel on one point. He insists that the prophets never encounter the transcendent God. Instead, they encounter God-towards-man, or God’s pathos. “Revelation means, not that God makes Himself known, but that He makes His will known” (620). From a Christian perspective, the miracle of the incarnation is precisely that God has made Himself known in Jesus. In a very real sense, Jesus is the pathos of God made flesh.

Heschel’s comprehensive study of the Hebrew Prophets deserves continued engagement today.

—Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).

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