Inside: Alix Ohlin

I just finished reading Inside by Alix Ohlin. I needed a book to read and J had already downloaded this one from the library. I knew nothing about the book, and after finishing the first chapter, I was ready to be disappointed. Initially, the book seemed like it was a collection of short stories about marital disfunction revolving around a therapist theme.

13152420Rather than set it down, I soldiered on into the next chapters and found instead a wonderfully crafted story that did bloom into a full blown novel. Its a story of redemption, a story of growing up, a story that circles back onto itself.

Inside reminds us that the interactions we have today, do have ramifications in the future. It says something about true friendship, about the fact that we are connected to each other, sometimes i strange ways.

Ohlin has created an easy to read novel with deep themes and an artistic style which, in the end surprises.

Noah: The Movie

MV5BMjAzMzg0MDA3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMzOTYwMTE@._V1_SY630_SX426_We went to see Noah last night. It was surprising that it turned up in our local movie theater so soon after it’s release, but there it was. After hearing the CBC review yesterday morning, it seemed like a good idea.

There were a number of folks at the show who I knew; church folks. On the way out, one of them stopped me and said, “Well that sure was a disappointment”. He looked like he’d been held up at gun point and lost his watch and wallet.

I’m not sure what he expected, or what I expected, for that matter. Noah is not a retelling of the Sunday School story, although all of the well known elements of the story are there. The Creator speaks, Noah builds, the animals come as does the water, the dove flies, and something of a rainbow appears. Oh, and wine is invented too. So, you can’t say the creators of the movie aren’t faithful to the few verses of scripture they had to work with. From there, though, they let their imaginations fly and in so doing answer a lot of my childhood questions about the story. How did all those animals fit in the ark? How did that little band of people keep them all fed and watered? How could they have enough feed along? And what about all the manure? How did Noah and his family manage to build such a big project? Where did all the wood come from? Why didn’t everyone else in the world force their way on to the ark as well?

The answers to my questions are surprising and imaginative. As a drama, a story, of a family working against the odds toward a vision it was a wonderful two and a half hours, money well spent.

So, what was my friend’s problem? He may have been looking for the Gospel to come through somehow. There was one, but it was more of an environmental message than a Christian gospel. In fact, I don’t think God was ever named God; it was always “The Creator”. Noah’s understanding of the Creator’s plan for the second chance is actually very Calvinist (and he never smiles), a totally depraved humanity is responsible for all the trouble in the world. Creation comes first.

Anyway, go and see the show. The scenery from Iceland is breath taking, the special effects are amazing, the story has enough action, and art, to satisfy both sides of the couch; there is romance, new life, and cute cuddly creatures. But, don’t go thinking that this is any sort of proof of the literal truth of a man named Noah, or that your Sunday School version of the story will be supported.

This is Hollywood, and Hollywood knows the name Noah would put more bums in more seats than Gilgamesh would.

 

Cementville

51J+kn-89yL._SL500_AA300_Cementville is a first novel for Paulette Livers. It draws its story from a town in grief and in turmoil. Set with the backdrop of the Vietnam war and its devastating effects on this working class town, the book plumbs the depths of the suffering of ordinary people just trying to get along, trying to live their lives.

The novel is  a portrait of a period in time. It begins with sorrow, and heartbreak, and while there is resolution to some of the situations presented, we are left wondering, just as we are everyday in real life. The book wonderfully portrays life in a close community with the support and the conflict that comes with it.

Its style gives the feeling of the place to the outsider since Liver doesn’t necessarily explain who people are, but rather, leaves the reader to learn from the conversations and interactions in much the same way as a new comer, to any close net community, would need to do. While this does make the novel artistically interesting, it can also be somewhat confusing, just like moving to a new town.

Cementville is a novel written to describe a dark time. Livers does an excellent job of bringing us into the interior life of her characters, allowing us to feel their struggles, their doubts, their fears.