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madbkwm

madbkwm

Man in the Woods - Scott Spencer I really wanted to like this book. I thought the premise was interesting, there were some great moments, but overall I was just too sidetracked by all the religious propaganda. Despite some great intellectual moments, we can really boil this book down to: Man accidentally kills a bad person in the woods; his girlfriend is a born-again religious freak and he is basically a good person; he is converted, she saves his soul and so he gets away with murder (literally); but then she loses her faith; her daughter questions her faith; and so his sister is in a terrible accident; they worship money/fame instead of God; his dog gets revoked and the police arrive to cart him off to jail. Ugh.

Despite all this I wanted to like the book. Maybe part of that is as a reaction to "Those in the IQ aristocracy have fallen in love with their own minds, which is a dangerous, and foolish, and possibly insane thing to do, and their vanity over their extra IQ points fills them with hubris, and they believe themselves to have no superiors." Certainly as Kate mulls over the fact that all the intelligent people she knows do not believe in God (opium of the masses anyone?) and then clearly insults those of us happily encamped in the non-believing intelligentsia I took offense (and maybe then was challenged to try to like it more than I otherwise would?).

There were lots of nonsensical pieces (besides the religious crap): Will ran away for $8K (doesn't he work at a bank, can't he get a loan? although Melinda does point out that maybe he is just loosing his mind); Kate appears (before the accident with Annabelle and her subsequent psychological meltdown) as alternatively a 4 year old and a 11 year old (maybe Scott Spencer just doesn't have kids, but I do and one is 6 and the other is 10 and Kate was both older and younger than each...she is supposed to be 9 at the outset of the novel).

On the other hand, it was well written and there are some great truisms having to deal with relationships, perspective, and addiction:

"Maybe that's the secret of love, sometimes it carries you, and other times it's your turn and you've got to carry it." Nice way to say that relationships are work.

"Paul has long believed that the secret to a happy life is a willingness to do without..." My grandfather once told me that the hardest thing to do is to say no to yourself, but if you figure it out you will be happier overall for it. Similar sentiment here and equally true.

"But how can we ever see ourselves, let along wee ourselves as others see us, when the person seeing is the same as the person seen?" Are we truly self-aware beings? Certainly, some of us are better at it that others, but we all have delusions and perspectives on things.

"it's really about the things we do for alcohol. It's like a demon, Sonny, and it's furious with you for turning your back on it. It will do anything and say anything to get you to put it inside you." I'm not sure I like the thought that the fault lies in the substance (rather than the abuser). She starts with the things we do for alcohol (implying it is the user's choice), but then casts alcohol as a demon forcing the issue. Ultimately, an addict must learn to deny him/herself; resist the urge and make their own choices. Blaming the substance here feels like a cop out and not consistent with Kate's character.

It was engrossing and a page turner, but overall not a very good book.