Though I can't believe I'm doing this, I'm putting this book down after reading only twenty pages.
Let me say that Donald Miller's breakthrough book, Blue Like Jazz is one of the best books I've ever read. I highly recommend it, especially if you are someone who wonders, as I do, why so many Christians are so whacked out. Blue will refresh you.
But Through Painted Deserts? I dunno. Here's the problem: this book is a rewrite of a previous book, Prayer And The Art of Volkswagen Maintenance (an infinitely better title, first of all). That book showed that Miller could write. That he, in fact, had the makings of brilliance. Blue Like Jazz came next. Following that, Miller wrote Searching For God Knows What, which was not nearly as strong as Blue but had a lot going for it nonetheless.
I'm not sure why he revisted his previous work. He talks about his reasons here, and it's his book after all, he can do what he wants. Miller has substantially rewritten (this is obvious in the first few pages) the original. This should be a good thing. Yet for a guy who can make substantial and fautless prose seem easy, he sure works his words hard. Immediately the adjectives and adverbs start falling like wet, heavy, silvery, globular raindrops cascading heavily and unceasingly on my poor short brown-mixed-here-and-there-with-grey haired head.
I'm not kidding... it's like that. After a few pages I just couldn't take it anymore.
I'm sorry Mr. Miller, I so wanted to like this book. Really! And Blue Like Jazz will always be one of the best books ever written about Christian spirituality. I'll even go so far as to say it ranks up there with some of the great nonfiction books of the 20th Century. It's that good. Furthermore I mean to check out To Own A Dragon because of my respect for you as a writer. However, I think you should have left well enough alone and let your first book remain your first book. It was never a bad book. Why'd you have to go messin'?
Though, as usual, what do I know? Most of the reviews at amazon praise the book.
Ok, well. Onward.
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