Sunday, September 20, 2009

Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years ~ Reviewed

NOTE: We don't generally post reviews of non-fiction...hence the title...Novel Reviews. However, because there is such a strong how-to element in this non-fiction memoir, I felt it would be beneficial to novelists.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life (Hardcover)
Donald Miller
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785213066

Product Description:

Full of beautiful, heart-wrenching, and hilarious stories, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details one man's opportunity to edit his life as if he were a character in a movie.

Years after writing a best-selling memoir, Donald Miller went into a funk and spent months sleeping in and avoiding his publisher. One story had ended, and Don was unsure how to start another.

But he gets rescued by two movie producers who want to make a movie based on his memoir. When they start fictionalizing Don's life for film--changing a meandering memoir into a structured narrative--the real-life Don starts a journey to edit his actual life into a better story. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details that journey and challenges readers to reconsider what they strive for in life. It shows how to get a second chance at life the first time around.

My Review:

Donald Miller writes about what he knows. And what he knows best are his experiences, his thoughts and his life.

What makes Miller's thoughts, experiences and life out of the ordinary and compelling enough to plunk down the plastic or click "add to cart" is the way that Miller shapes and shares those thoughts, experiences and life.

Every one of us has had rough stuff happen, or been able to say "No fair!" or thrown our own pity party. Right? Miller takes it a step beyond and puts his tough things through his thought digestive system and analyzes what he finds like a scientist might catalog cell details. And what Miller's data reveals is, at worst, thought-provoking and at best life shaping. With simplistic language, self-deprecating anecdotes and brutal honesty, Miller lays out his struggles, his beliefs, even his neuroses for all to learn from, critique and even mock. In my opinion, this makes him a bit of a hero. Most of us spend our lives trying to cover up who we fear we might actually be under the layers of make-up, education, designer clothing or even scathing wit.

I have not completely read Blue Like Jazz. I've read portions and based on what I did read purchased copies of his works and given them away, so I can't compare Blue to Million Miles. I can tell you that there is an up and down faith struggle portrayed on the pages of Million Miles and Miller's father issues play a part in the unfolding drama, both familiar territory. But I believe the virgin landscape for Miller might be the refining struggles caused by the success of Blue and the expectations that came from becoming a New York Times Bestseller. Miller shares his struggle and the subsequent growth in a series of mini-stories that shaped him into a very different man.

Writers will discover that this book will help put Robert McKee's epic "Story" into easy to grasp segments, and at times Million Miles almost reads like a writing how-to. Very conservative or fault-finding Christians will probably be able to find a few statements that rattle the God-box and possibly cause them to make strong statements. Strugglers who are looking for hope and who are sick and tired of being sick and tired may find something of value to grasp onto and to use as inspiration to write a better story for themselves. I will be buying several copies of this title for many people who will benefit from Miller's experiences and unique ability to digest and regurgitate profound and simplistic truth.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

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