July 30, 2002

The Man Who Owned Vermont

Category: Literature :: Permalink

Today, I finished reading Bret Lott’s The Man Who Owned Vermont. Lott, I’m told, is a member of a PCA, and this was his first novel. He does a very good job of getting us into the lives of ordinary people, people who make the same kinds of blunders and commit the same kinds of ordinary (but no less harmful) sins most of us do.

Rick Wheeler is an RC Cola salesman whose wife has left him. He doesn’t know why, or so he tells himself (and us). Aching from what he sees as the failure of his marriage, he tries to cope by throwing himself into his work, making new friends, and even meeting someone new. But as the story progresses (and as Rick fills us in on what has happened in the past), we see that coping is no replacement for reconciliation.

It’s a heartbreaking story, and at times it frightened me. I look forward to being a husband someday, Lord willing, but I’m also aware — and books like this make me more aware — of my own inclination toward selfishness, and, as Lott shows, selfishness and a failure to give oneself to another destroy marriages.

In Acts, Larry Woiwode writes, referring to the novel which “was used to draw Kuyper over the threshold into conversion,”

The right book at the right time has that potential. It can teach us to live, or make it possible to live, or render incarnate through its characters the lived life of a Christian, or simply draw us out of bed and set us on our feet again. This can seem nearly miraculous when it happens, and this is the moment we seek, writers first of all, when we enter the first sentence of a novel: a way to live (p. 44).

Conversely, as with Lott’s novel, a story can also shed light on our lives and even move us to repentance as it shows us people living out our destructive tendencies.

Posted by John Barach @ 11:26 pm | Discuss (0)

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