Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My Reading Life: The Father's Tale (O'Brien)


Dauntingly thick, at 1076 pages, the second O'Brien book for me is The Father's Tale. It has been sitting on my shelf for a few years since I've not been willing to give up several weeks, or maybe more than a month, of time to read it. Foraging the shelves to gather books for the Spring Reading Challenge (SRC), I decided it was time to do it. I pulled it down while standing there, went directly to the back of the dust jacket as I typically do when I begin a book, to read the reviews listed. 

After reading the first one and without reading any others, the book went directly to the SRC shelf. Peter Kreeft wrote that first review. I've had all kinds of deep respect for that man for about twenty years after using some of his books in our high school home education years. That, coupled with Kreeft's words (that follow) moved the book to the SRC shelf. 

 "This is a magnum opus in quality as well as quantity. All of O'Brien's large and human soul is in this book as in none of his shorter ones:  father, Catholic, Russophile, Canadian, personalist, artist, storyteller, romantic. There is not one boring or superfluous page. When you finish The Father's Tale you will say of it what Tolkien said of The Lord of the Rings: "It has one fault: it is too short.' A thousand pages of Michael O'Brien is like a thousand sunrises: who's complaining."
 
O'Brien is not unknown to me. I read his 850 page Island of the World in 2010, and it remains one of the few best books I've ever read. Best because it's a book that does something to you when you read it; it changes you somehow. I call it the crucifixion-and-resurrection story. Every reader should read it. 

The Father's Tale is a chunker, but I remembered that last March delving into Gone With the Wind with 1037 pages. Maybe March is for chunky reads? But last March I was dealing with an ailment that left me sapped of strength for several months, and I often would read after awakening for a while, go back to sleep, wake and read some more, not getting up for good until 10 or 11 in the morning. That's how I got through GWTW as quickly (for me) as I did. I'm not sapped of strength this year, except by age, but I can read about thirty pages every morning before arising easy enough. Usually I can't read that much at night before the book falls in my face, but with both efforts combined, I'll get through this. 

O'Brien has already captivated me with the story in The Father's Tale causing me to move Edward Rutherfurd's Russka: The Novel of Russia to the Next Challenge shelf. I'm not sure I will read that in the summer, but possibly the autumn challenge. Until you read The Father's Tale, that comment will make no sense. :)

Back to The Tale


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