Wednesday, February 18, 2009

80 (2009 #5). Same Kind of Different as Me

by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

This was a selection of my local book club, probably classified as “inspirational/Christian” nonfiction. I guess I’m a bit of a cynic as this is not something I would have read otherwise. It took me forever to slog through it. I found it to be preachy and rather pretentious.

It’s the true story of a wealthy white man, Ron Hall, and a homeless black man, Denver Moore, brought together by the white man’s wife, Deborah, who dies from colon and liver cancer. According to Hall (in response to a review on Amazon), “...I get nothing from the book royalties. Denver gets 50% and the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas gets the other 50%...Denver get [sic] 100% of his art sales and speaking fees while mine go the Union Gospel Mission in memory of Debbie..."

The book is short chapters alternately narrated by Ron and Denver. I found Denver’s to be more sincere, but was bothered by it being written in an uneducated dialect. It seemed to perpetuate stereotypes. Ron’s chapters border on insufferable – I get a little tired of so-called Christians who seem to feel the need to call attention to what they are (or are not) doing. The only really interesting parts of the book were those about Deborah’s illness.

Some of the writing in the book is lyrical (probably the work of co-writer Lynn Vincent), if a bit affected:
Deborah exported a fresh and contagious joy to the Lot. There, under the giant and ancient elm that shaded the benches, she always found some pearls hidden below the amber sea of crushed beer bottles and syringes. The pearl she found one day glistened in the smile of a grizzled street veteran who lived under a railroad trestle in a cardboard box shaped like a casket. (pp. 119-120)

The whole message of the book can be found simply by reading Denver’s last few sentences:
...I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home. (p. 235)

The discussion questions at the back of the paperback edition of the book (also available here) seemed to be aimed more at religious groups than typical book clubs. This to me is further evidence that the best audience for this book might be Christian church classes. However, Denver has some visions and visitations from spirits that might offend more fundamentalist believers.

1 comment:

  1. I am so thankful to my cousin for insisting I read this book! How right she was!!! Ron is honest! He did what most of us do and carry out a task simply because our spouse asks us to, not because we actually WANT to. He acknowledges his anger towards God during his time of mourning, again, something we tend to do but not outwardly admit to. Denver, oh how I would LOVE to meet him! Genuine, ignorant in academics but a genious in life. His words are elementary but run deep at the same time. I love how the author wrote Denver's words the way he actually talks. Just started "what difference do it make.