Wilson, N.D. Boys of Blur.
I believe I can accurately classify myself as an N.D. Wilson fanboy. This is actually my second time through Boys of Blur; I devoured in in less than two days when it originally released.
Taper, Florida is a small town that lives and breathes two things: sugar cane and high school football. Charlie Reynolds and his family return to Taper for the funeral of Charlie’s stepdad, Coach Willie Wisdom. Charlie meets his “step-second-cousin” Cotton, and they are confronted with mysterious sights (and smells) among the cane fields.
The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf plays a key role in the story; in fact, it was Boys of Blur that piqued my interest in Beowulf enough to get me to read two different versions of it. After finishing those, I re-read Boys of Blur, and enjoyed it even more.
This book was an unusually fast read for me. I have the Kindle version, and it seemed like no time at all between 50% progress and 85-90%. The story is set up well, and picks up momentum like a freight train. Even the second time through, I found myself finishing the book far faster than I expected. It really is a good read, and it’s a great introduction to Wilson’s fiction (my favorite is his Ashtown Burials series, whose fourth volume can’t come out soon enough).
Boys of Blur is exciting, entertaining reading. But for me, it’s also more: it’s encouraging reading. There is much wisdom woven into the story. Parents are not oppressive buffoons, but sources of stability and goodness. For example, Charlie’s stepdad Mack teaches Charlie,
“Your father made mistakes. We all do. But instead of working to set things right, he chose to protect those mistakes–he let them be. He even fed them, which made them so much worse. Mistakes don’t just hang on the wall like ugly pictures. Mistakes are seeds.” He thumped his chest. “In here. They grow. They take over. You make a mistake, you gotta make it right. Dig that seed out. Old Wiz used to say, ‘Fruit rots, wood rots, but lazy-ass boys rot the fastest.’ … His mistakes are yours to overcome, but they don’t need to grow in you. You’ll make plenty of your own” (49).
It always encourages my own heart, and even more so when I think of the countless Charlies reading Boys of Blur who need to hear this as well. It’s good to know that the power of fiction is being wielded in capable hands, and Wilson continues to prove himself more than capable.