This is a slightly edited review of one I published in 2004 in Living Light News out of Edmonton, AB. I have blogged about Buechner before, and consider him an honourary Inkling who was influenced by C.S. Lewis.
I consider Frederick Buechner to be one of the great American writers of the 20th century.
For the first line of a review, that statement seems like a ridiculous overstatement. But it is not. His first novel, A Long Day’s Dying, was a bestseller. Since then, Buechner has written over 30 works of fiction and creative non-fiction, and has been honoured as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award—the most coveted nods of the literature world. Among his most critically acclaimed works are his Bebb fiction series, his novels Brendan and Godric, featuring ancient Celtic saints on their journeys of faith, and his published sermons in such works as The Magnificent Defeat and The Hungering Dark. More than awards and accolades and critical acclaim, though, Frederick Buechner simply writes good books.
And Beyond Words is a good book—three actually. In a dictionary of faith and life, Beyond Words brings together three of Buechner’s best-loved works: Wishful Thinking, Peculiar Treasures, and Whistling in the Dark. The result is 366 devotional entries that serve as a treasury of finding God in life—both in the spectacular and the mundane. From “Aaron” to “Zacchaeus,” from “Adolescence” to “Zero,” Buechner weaves tales of pilgrimage, heartbreak, leaps of faith, crushing doubt, and that curious joy that God brings to a person’s life.
Frederick Buechner is a master of modern literature, but he is also a good companion for the journey of life. Beyond Words is an excellent devotional piece that will provide the reader with a daily entry that is both thought provoking and faith provoking.
(Harper San Francisco, 432 pages, hardcover)