Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Book Review - Third Wish by Robert Fulghum


I was thrilled to discover that Robert Fulghum had written a novel.  I knew it would be unusual, creative, imaginative, outside the box and superlative in nature.  I was not wrong.  Fulghum never does anything half way.

You all know I have a great love for Robert Fulghum and his work.  I don't agree with it all, but his view of life and living is fresh and has influenced me greatly.  I must say that this tome intimidated me a bit.  It is enormous in size and scope.  Volume 1 is 502 pages and Volume 2 is 416.  Don't despair, many of the pages comprise wonderful original art that perfectly enhances Fulghum's storytelling.  Holding such substantial books casts the illusion that what is being said might be substantial as well.

I thrilled at the storytelling.  I was swept away by the travelogues.  I was charmed by the characters.  And I was dismayed by the message.  After all the serious chasing around Fulghum has done seeking a philosophical anchor he still hasn't hit on anything but existential, self indulging emptiness.  As a witness of life he is remarkable.  As a participant in life he is fun.  As sage or even mentor of living, he keeps on falling flat for me and that is a huge disappointment.  He seems to me to be like the thirsty man the Lord spoke of who dreamed that he drank, but when he awoke he was still thirsty.  This author is supreme in his wonderful gift.  He is superlative in his observation of the human condition.  But what he keeps delivering to me is a wonderfully crafted, ornate box with nothing inside.  He seems to think silliness is happiness.  He seems to think that education is wisdom.  He seems to think experience is a trophy.  He seems to think he can distract himself from despair by novelty.  He seems to believe that self indulging fondness is love.  He seems to think that a full life is a fulfilling one.  And he seems to strongly suspect that God is himself.   I don't.

I think the central theme in the book is Fulghum's quest to find himself.  So far he seems to be looking in all the wrong places.  I hope, for both our sakes, that he keeps looking.  Onward!

Now, please do not hesitate to read this wonderfully entertaining story.  It is really well written.  Lots of fun and worth your time.  If perchance you should decide not to pick it up, scroll down and I'll give you the briefest of synopsis's.

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-The book can be encapsulated in words I once saw hanging from a secretary's desk: 

I've gone out to find myself.  If I should happen to return before I get back, would you please keep me here?


1 comment:

Kristena Cook said...

I read the first volume in the box and found it very entertaining and at times very thought provoking and almost scary in its vastness. And I'm not referring to the size of the book- I have read many larger ones. The scope of the characters and their interactions awed me and at times the book was so beautiful I found myself in tears. Then I reached the end of the novel and, like a wild deer spooked, I fled. I still have not found the courage to pick up the second volume, though I imagine I will before the year is out. I found your "synopsis" perfect, by the way. Cheers!

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