My newest book, Nearly Canaan, is a thorough reworking of three earlier novels that now flow together as one.
Here are ten reasons the new version is new and improved.
The book now focuses on the question of what impact one person can make for lasting good in our world, especially in and through our closest relationships.
Jaya’s professional identity in her pioneering approach to nonprofits administration is quickly and more clearly established. Her career and its demands become a source of major conflict in the course of the story.
Her character now grows out of her role in Yoga Bootcamp, which provides further understanding of her motivations and inner direction.
The actions now show that the best intentions may have unanticipated negative consequences.
Jaya’s desire to find an appropriate way of personally expressing her spiritual experiences finally creates a unique artform.
Events are no longer left hanging at the end of what was the first novel. Life moves on in the aftermath of disaster.
The overall work is now structured within three large, overarching sections, each presented by a different teller. The first one, focusing on Jaya, is comprised of three telescoping parts that propel the action to the distinctive landscape where the second and third sections also take place. The second section is told by one of Jaya’s yoga students while the third is told by a young wife who’s been a close neighbor. Each of them reveals details unknown to most of the other characters in their social circle.
The story now has a short fourth section as a coda. I’m especially fond of it.
Once again, changing some of the names of characters makes a huge difference, especially when that leads to fond nicknames. Just see what happens to Jaya’s beau, especially.
I have far more sympathy for Jaya’s husband’s situation, even if it’s what he pressed so hard to find himself in.
The Bible often offers multiple versions, often sharply contrasted, as if knowing that we, as humans, will keep thinking and asking this and that without seeing the fuller picture behind words and our preconditioned concepts.
These versions say, in effect, “OK, you don’t accept that one, you don’t get it, so how about taking the matter from this angle?” Sometimes the facts or accounts even contradict themselves, especially in details, to get us to start questioning our assumptions. The whole point, I sense, is that ultimately the issue is unanswerable, along the lines of the conclusion of Job’s struggle. You just have to look at it in utter awe.
In an approach that says in effect, “OK, you didn’t understand this story, now try this one,” seems to assume, “You’re going to keep asking questions, thinking, circling, so let’s short-circuit that flow,” because much of what’s really at hand is beyond logic. No wonder in the big Job scene, God finally erupts in righteous indignation.
Quite simply, there are many times where words just can’t convey an awareness of the infinite. Or even a fleeting sunset. Or hope or love.
What can you think of that goes far beyond the ability of words to express fully?