Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book Review: The Song

Title: The Song

(There's a new one-volume edition of the trilogy, now; Amazon wants to be sure you know about it.)

Author: Calvin Miller

Date: 1977

Publisher: InterVarsity

ISBN: 0-87784-785-2

Length: 168 pages

Illustrations: drawings, apparently by the author

Quote: “We were surprised to hear that the revolutionaries were atheists.”

The late Calvin Miller, a visionary and poetic preacher, wrote three volumes of what appear to be fantasy or science fiction but actually retell the New Testament story. The Singer set up a fictional parallel to the life of Christ; The Finale set up a fictional/poetic Apocalypse; The Song was based on the biblical story of the apostles, which, in Miller’s understanding, carries forward into our own time. Comments directly on the Russian revolution and the World Wars are scattered through The Song.

If you liked the poetic style of The Singer, you probably liked The Song and The Finale when these books were new. If you like the idea of paraphrasing the Bible into the language of something like Lord of the Rings or Dragonriders of Pern, you’ll enjoy these books now. The controversy about whether this was really an appropriate or reverent way to spread the Gospel News has never been completely resolved. Some Christians approve of Miller’s trilogy; some don’t.

Some of Miller’s other writing was satirical and intended to be funny, and although The Singer wasn’t meant to be funny, in The Song Miller couldn’t repress his sense of humor in lines like the rest of the paragraph quoted above:

“It should not have surprised us as it did. We had forgotten that the rabble teemed the lower city and walked in rags and prayed to St. Basil year by year. But the Saint was far too busy with the Czars to hear. It cost St. Basil everything to be so uppity.”

I think that will serve as a test paragraph. If you like that paragraph, you will like The Song.

The copy of The Song I physically own is particularly weatherbeaten, barely readable by now. No worries; if you buy it here you'll get a copy in decent condition--that's why the online prices at this web site are so much higher than the real-world prices I put on books in open-air markets, where books become more weatherbeaten from week to week. Online prices are $5 per book, $5 per package (all three volumes of the Singer trilogy, plus at least one other paperback trilogy and probably a few more paperbacks, would ship for $5), plus $1 per online payment or whatever you pay the post office to send a safer real-world payment. 

From this standard price of $10 per book, while writers are living, we send $1 per book to the author or a charity of his or her choice. Calvin Miller no longer needs $1. Keep browsing this site (scroll down until you find "Labels: A FAIR TRADE BOOK" and click on that button) to find books by writers who do; adding those books to the package helps us encourage living writers.