Good morning, afternoon, evening-------I hope you are my well & feeling connected wherever you are at whatever time you read this. This Monday review is a little shorter than most (and, rather ironically, includes three short-stories). With the coronavirus lockdown extended, there's additional time for reading good things. If you have any suggestions, be it poetry, short-stories, flash fiction, novels, biographies, memoirs, or any other literary form that comes to mind, please do share! Without further ado, Week Fourteen's The Monday Review.
1. Futures, Han Ong
Published by The New Yorker
I was uncertain about this short story when I began to read, but the revelations filtered towards the end and I realised why the preciousness of this narrative and its characters. Without spoiling the piece, I'll show you a line from somewhere in the middle:
"How does lazy Toby explain his fervent admiration for somebody who, as the press notes, “fights for every point”? But isn’t that the essence of dreaming—wanting to be somebody you’re not?"
Even if there isn't someone specific you have in mind to be. Even if it's just someone you know you are not, maybe can never be.
What if "it’s not about laziness? Talk to the physio," says Ong's son to his father. "My quick-twitch muscles, there aren’t enough of them. And my hand-eye coördination: you can’t teach stuff like that."
And there's this moment.
Sometimes I get so lonely I talk to people waiting for the bus. I tell them my situation—not everything but close to it. They are quiet, but I can see in their eyes: this is all a dream, and it is time to grow up. Everywhere I turn, there are the same words: grow up. I never answer them, because I am humbled. It is my own fault that I cannot defend myself, because after what I have done who will listen to me? But if I could answer them I would say, Not yet to grow up. I need more time. Please. More time. The dream is not dead. There is still hope. Only after hope dies, then I will agree: yes, I can grow up. But not before. Only till then. Please. And, once more, he plays the word for the most forlorn—and to Toby—heartsore beat: Please.
---- Han Ong, "Futures."
2. Love Letter, George Saunders
Published by The New Yorker
A grandfather writes a loving, disclosing letter to his grandson with words of affirmation and advice. Recommend!
3. Rising, Rowan Wilson
Published by The Oxford Review of Books
"Rising" is the winner of the Spring 2020 ORB Fiction Competition, judged by Will Eaves. It is a compelling, gorgeous read; the description is sensitive, haunting and alive. It feels so very real. The character is the Spirit of a woman in a morgue who reflects on what she would like to do in her worn, "awkwardly, greying" body.
Delicate in thought and description, "Rising" is an effortless, poignant read and deserving of acclaim.
4. Goliath Must Fall, Louie Giglio
I heard Louie Giglio speak at Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, 2012. He was a thoughtful speaker; considered, reflective, sensitive and so, so full of excitement. I remember this most about him; he was truly enthusiastic.
His was a testimony of comfort found in Christ; restoration in the power of the cross-sacrifice. Giglio was unabashed by the grief, anxiety and addition that had deeply affected------it revealed the gracious outpouring of restoration, wholeness and faith that emboldened his relationship with the Church, his Father in Heaven and himself.
Published by Thomas Nelson in 2017, Goliath Must Fall is a brilliant read, and considers the grip of rejection, fear, anger, comfort and addition at work in the world. God has a plan for you, a plan for you to live in victory, a plan to prosper and protect you, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29v11). Giglio reflects this promise in relation to the classic story of David and Goliath.
The battle is not ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. Jesus has already taken the sling and the stone and slain the giant. The giant of fear has already fallen. The work is already done by Christ on the cross. Our responsibility is to have faith. That's the antidote. God is able. Jesus is enough. When we set our eyes on him, we will not be shaken. We will rest secure.
When fear makes us feel small, or faithless, let us find assurance in Jesus, who "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross," and, "seated at the right hand of the throne of God," founds and perfects our faith (Hebrew 12v2). Jesus, the confidence of our hope. Jesus, the assurance of all good things we cannot see (Hebrews 11v1).
Goliath Must Fall reminds readers that it is Jesus who, in times of uncertainty, addiction, difficulty, panic, rejection, betrayal and pain, heals. "Though we have not seen him, we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, receiving the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1v8-9).