When Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz came out, I bought the book for a friend. A few weeks later I asked what he thought. "I did not really like Blue like Jazz. I think it confirms I am not cutting edge enough and definitely not post-modern enough. He just came off kind of like a know it all to me but it is probably just me. I have very strange tastes."
Maybe, but he wasn't alone. Many found the book indulgent and a little off. Others, like me, enjoyed it. It's not the perfect book, but I found it to be honest and refreshing.
Fast forward six years, and you have Miller's latest book released today: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. It's safe to say that if you liked Blue Like Jazz, you will like this book. Miller knows how to write, and this book got under my skin and has even prompted me to make some changes.
A Million Miles begins when two movie filmmakers want to make a movie based on his memoir. A film, though, needs a story. What is the story of Miller's life? Miller begins to realize that he didn't really have much of a story to tell. He is coasting through life. He begins to examine the elements of story, which leads him to begin editing his real life. He learns to take risks, confront fears, get healthy, and to do things that matter.
I loved reading the book. Don Miller knows how to make you laugh. He disarms you with his rambling style and his self-deprecating humor. Then, when you're not looking, he's got you confronting issues in your own life. He's sneaky. It's a beautiful book in a lot of ways.
Unlike Blue Like Jazz, this book resolves. It goes somewhere. And, mostly, you're glad to go along.
As I closed the book, I was left thinking through a lot of issues that the book surfaced. It's one of those books that makes you think about your own life and the story you're part of.
I do have a couple of quibbles. One is that I wonder if our tendency to think about the story of our lives is really a healthy one. Are we too self-absorbed? Probably. How many of us really need to think more about our stories? If anything, most of us need to think of a much bigger Story in which we are supporting actors - important supporting characters, to be sure, but nowhere near the main character. That honor belongs to Somebody else.
That leads me to my second quibble: what role does that Somebody else play? It sounds like a cliché to say that Jesus should make a difference to our stories, but that's exactly why I want Miller to explore this. He's an expert at breaking through the clichés. I don't want to hear the pat answers; I want to hear how things really change in our messed up lives because the larger Story is true.
I enjoyed this book, and I'd recommend it overall. I'm looking forward to seeing how Miller's story plays out in the future. I'm sure we'll be reading about it.
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