Friday, April 04, 2014

The Hope We Seek (review)


The Hope We SeekThe Hope We Seek by Rich Shapero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was an interesting coincidence that the publisher for "The Hope We Seek" offered an ARC right around the time when my general research was leading me back to the history and myth of the American West. This book fits very soundly within the current, as it is essentially an exploration of those symbols--mining, in some sense, for an American myth, rather than gold.

The prose is at its best when it describes the land itself as an outpouring of the human spirit; at times the craft actually reaches the sublime that the author is clearly reaching for throughout. However, the flip side of this is that at times it feels as though we aren't so much coming along on the journey as watching someone else's religious experience from afar. That goes a way toward saying that my experience of the book is that it isn't nearly as gripping or even interesting as it is good -- and this raises a big question for me of what "good" even means, in this context.

But that question will have to wait for another day. I applaud the effort invested in plumbing the shared psychological history of hope and loss which represents not only the best and worst of the West, but also all of our own personal journeys. That it doesn't seem to speak to the heart as much as it seeks, however earnest the effort seems, is the only flaw in what might otherwise be a five star effort.

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