Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review for “The Spirit of David”, a book compiled by Ernie Weckbaugh; review by Gretchen Ting, a Mensa Member

“The Spirit of David” is a tribute to the life and spirit of David Schumacher, and it is billed as being a collection of stories from ‘those who have overcome… winning against all odds!” In other words, this is supposed to be an uplifting and inspiring book of 28 short stories, much like the “Chicken Soup” book series. Unfortunately this book falls short of its goals.

Inspiring stories are emotional events that have compelling characters, unusual or tragic events, and almost always a hero (or heroine) who perseveres and overcomes obstacles in a story that we can emotionally relate to and admire. There are a few short stories in The Spirit of David that do have these two essential components, those being good storytelling and the other being the emotional component. Disappointingly, most of this book does not inspire.

The acknowledgment, poem, the preface, and the first story about David Schumacher all do not let the reader get to know the man who inspired the book. Instead a rather dry factual biography is presented, but no human connection is ever really made with readers. Instead there are many generic, and often rather pompous proclamations and proofs of an author’s special success. Some stories like “That Awful Mountain” and “Blue Skies” are told well, but it is unclear as to why they might be especially inspiring stories of overcoming adversity. Others, such as “A Fever to Achieve” read much like a self-help infomercial and are too generic to feel personal or emotional. Some even manage to be rather depressing, such as “A Gift of Warmth” and “Doom and Gloomers.. Sorry”.

The best story is “Opportunity is Always at Hand” which chronicles a young mother with two children and no education solving her income problems by looking inwards rather than outward. It stands out as the one story that accomplishes the books goal of being an uplifting story of overcoming adversity. There are other stories in this book of people who overcome adversity, but the stories are dry, the storytelling is lacking, and the characters are incomplete and inaccessible. Short Stories can be fulfilling and inspiring; but this book is not an example of them.

... Gretchen Ting, A Mensa member, and a member of the Book Review SIG.

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