Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz became a breakout sensation in 2003, for a number of very good reasons. For starters, the memoir—subtitled "Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality"—was splendidly written. But it was also zeitgeisty in the best sense of the word, capturing the emerging momentum of the Christian hipster set: the 20- and 30-something demographic of post-Religious Right evangelicals for whom the hip/irreverent Relevant magazine was launched (also in 2003). The book was a breath of fresh air for many young Christians seeking less corny ways to express their faith. It was a pretty big deal.
It makes a lot of sense, then, that six years, four books, and untold sales later, Miller's latest—A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (Thomas Nelson)—uses Blue Like Jazz as a starting point.
You see, this book is (ostensibly) about the process of turning Jazz into a movie. Two filmmakers come calling, Miller agrees to have his life scripted for the screen, and the three men collaborate on a screenplay. It's a chance for Miller to "edit his life," to make it more structured, compelling, and, well, movie-like. Does his life, like Casablanca, have purpose in every scene and every line of dialogue? Will his life leave observers with a beautiful feeling as the credits roll?
These questions stand at the heart of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness meditation on story, how our lives are like stories, the theory of narrative, God as a writer, and so on. It's a movie-like book about a book becoming a movie. The prose alternates between episodic, cinematic "scenes" and philosophical ruminations about story. It's all very meta and postmodern and layered in an ...1
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