As I mentioned earlier, I skimmed this book, so I’m sure I missed a lot. So rather than a real review, this is a report on the parts I did read.

Here’s the opening lines:

It was the stillness.

That’s what they remembered most about the beginning. A stillness that hung like ancient mold on the trees. But who could forget anything about Wind Sunday? The sharp acrylic memories painted themselves on their hearts and refused to dry. And ever after, touching the canvas brought tears.


1. Hanging mold? Perhaps the author means moss, as in Spanish?

2. The acrylic memories remind me of a talk I gave to one of my high school students recently about not extending a metaphor so far that it falls off a cliff, so to speak.

Divorce Wednesday.

For the children it was four years ago. A day that crackled with screams and tears and hatred.


The next few pages describe the coming of “a wind larger than a planet” and heap elaborate scorn upon the scientists who think this is impossible and the newscasters who downplay it. But animals know better!

Around the world scientific instruments measured it, but only the dogs understood what it meant. Untold millions of them began howling their lungs out.

Soon, like all prophets, they would be beaten to silence.


The children are blown into a bizarre world in which they enact a sort of Pilgrim’s Progress. The two girls have to lug a baby (innocence, or possibly Jesus) around, and get lectured on theology at every turn by beings with tin-eared names like Wanderspoon, Worwil, and Mr. Hydrogen, most of whom speak in italics, Portentous Capitals, or

Portentously Capitalized
and Tragically Italicized
Poetry.


Here, have a sample:

Sing wind
Of Star Curse,
Of blood-gorged rivers that rush to the sea,
Why did you answer the call that he gave you?
His song,
Boodsong,
Sing

[…]

Oceans of teardrops, the wombs are dying.


Alex, the boy, follows this pattern: He gets beaten to hell and back, experiences extreme agony, vomits, is taken in by a being (generally speaking in italics) who seems good but is actually evil, is wounded and beaten up, vomits, and is agonized. Rinse and repeat, with variations involving infected wounds, pus, bile, more pus, more bile, slime, lakes of blood, etc.

And when there isn’t literal pus, there’s metaphorical pus. Satan is repeatedly described, for pages on end, as a giant infected pimple that needs to be popped by the forces of good. Even hope is a pimple:

”However, there may be one glimmer of true hope, a single pustule the size of a rat dropping. […] If we hurry, there might be someone who can keep you from suffering inordinately as you disintegrate into a foul-smelling, deciduous stalk of wood.”

And then there’s this characteristic passage:

She felt invisible fingers groping, probing in her mind, peeling away layers of memory like scabs from a rotting wound. Slicing open every ragged scar. Squeezing the pus from all her rancid sorrows.

This fetishistic fixation on wounds and bodily fluids reaches its climax when the characters meet God:

In the Face of this King was a strange and terrible Glory, and that Glory was in His scars. So many! So deep! Scars upon scars! Scars within scars! […] Every wound given to the smallest and least of his children had become a burning wound within His body. [etc] And the worst of the wounds were still bleeding, for they were the wounds from the Pit of Blood.

Alex’s sister is given a necklace as a souvenir, but Alex’s gift is a scar:

Bellwind smiled. “The scars, yes, the scars from wounds of the King, are the greatest gifts of all.”

I am not a Christian, but I ask you Christians: this is theologically unusual, right? (In addition to gross.)

The thing about God’s blood made me think of Catholicism, but a cathedral is the center of evil (sorry, Evil), so I’m guessing not. Can anyone identify the actual sect of Christianity which this might have sprung from, or would its origin be the fevered brain of the author alone?

Satan, by the way, is the Painter of the Universe. (Art is evil?) Meet Satan:

The body of the giant seemed to go on forever and through its crystal flesh, he could see organs surging with blood the color of rainbows. But the creature couldn’t move. It was bound hand and foot with mighty chains of crimson, and horrifying wounds covered its flesh. From them flowed blood in steaming rivers that fell away into the abyss.

…In the hands of a different author, Satan the Painter and his rainbow blood would be pretty awesome. Here, not so much.

There is no real plot, just a series of bizarre encounters which could have occurred in any order. Reading this was like reading an account of a highly religious, though theologically peculiar, acid trip, as recorded by someone unfamiliar with English capitalization:

An Ocean of Roaring Sweeping Down from the Sky…
An Ocean Crashing over her…


I realize how disorganized and incoherent this report is, which is unsurprising given the skim factor, but I don’t think it would be less so had I read every single word of the book, which is itself disorganized and incoherent.

I was so befuddled by this book that I looked up the author. He attended several Christian schools and a Christian college, fought in Vietnam and was awarded several medals for valor, and then became a TV producer! He sounds like a pretty interesting guy. Too bad none of his real-life experiences managed to inform his fiction in any useful manner.

Angel Fall: A Novel
A private donor made up the difference between the auction totals and the amount needed to run the One-on-Ones, so it looks like the kids will be getting their summer camp and show this year after all!

Thank you very much for all of your help!
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