I can’t review this book for a couple of reasons. First of all Mr. Wilson’s writing is intimidating in its brilliance and cleverness. I’m not that clever. Secondly, I read Death by Living on my Kindle. I can’t put my finger on the difference, but something about reading a book on the Kindle makes it feel different, lesser, and difficult to capture. I think it has to do with not being able to easily flip back and forth and re-read parts, or something. Anyway, I am finding it hard to evaluate books fairly that I read on my Kindle, even if I enjoyed them, as I did this one. I just think maybe I would have enjoyed it more in print, on paper.
“Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself.”
“I began to see the world more like a cook than a writer. There were boundless ingredients out there, combinations waiting to be discovered and simmered and served. There were truths and stories and characters and quirks that could clash badly, and some that could marry and birth sequels. I began to feel a lot more comfortable. It wasn’t all on me to create. It was on me to find. To catch. To arrange.”
“When Job lifted his face to the Storm, when he asked and was answered, he learned that he was very small. He learned that his life was a story.. He spoke with the Author, and learned that the genre had not been an accident. God tells stories that make Sunday School teachers sweat and mothers write their children permission slips excusing them from encountering reality.”
“The world never slows down so that we can grasp the story, so that we can form study groups and drill each other on the recent past until we have total retention. We have exactly one second to carve a memory of that second, to sort and file and prioritize in some attempt at preservation. But then the next second has arrived, the next breeze to distract us, the next plane slicing through the sky, the next funny skip from the next funny toddler, the next squirrel fracas, and the next falling leaf.”
“Imagine a world that is truly and intrinsically and explosively accidental. Explain time in that world, in the world with no narrative and no narrator. Why time? Why progression?”
“Time is that harsh current that thrusts us down the rapids of narrative causation. Every moment leads to another moment and those moments pile together, boiling and rolling in falls, creasing skin and blinding eyes and breaking bones and wiping minds. Why are we old? Because we were young. Why do we die? Because we lived.”
“No matter how many pictures we take, no matter how many scrapbooks we make, no matter how many moments we invade with a rolling camera, we will die. We cannot grab and hold. We cannot smuggle things out with through death.”
“We are authors and we are writing every second of every day. A child scissors a couch, and that action is forever and always. It cannot be undone. But now it is your turn. What you say and what you do in response will be done forever, never to be appealed, edited or modified.”
So yeah, it’s a book about time and living abundantly and stories and choices and dust motes and upchuck. Yep, all of those things. So read it. But maybe not on an eReader.