Friday, January 29, 2010

The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin

I'm pleased to have a guest post this week from my extremely intelligent sister-in-law, Diane. It was her idea that I start this blog and for that I shall always be grateful. These are her insights on The Book of the Dun Cow:

Although it took me ages to finally pick up this story, the impressions it left upon my heart make me want to read it again as soon as possible. For years it sat on my shelf because of the cover: a profile of a rooster with a tan, one-horned cow standing in the background. Why would I want to read a book about farm animals? But this title repeatedly showed up on lists of “must reads”, so I decided to commit myself to reading and finishing it. By the middle of the story I couldn’t put it down.

In my opinion, no author is able to paint word pictures as powerfully as Wangerin does. His are not of the simplistic, primary color sort. Instead he “paints” with the depths and wonder of a Dutch master. As I read this book I was constantly amazed at his ability to create a tale of cosmic implication and universal experience through the lives of barnyard animals. This epic novel about the battle between good and evil would have no integrity if it did not incorporate honest, simple relationships. That is the battlefield where our propensity for evil and our fight for good occur. Thus, this story unfolds on three spheres universally experienced by living souls – the cosmic dilemma, the trenches of one’s own family and community, and most frighteningly real of all, the depths of one’s own being.

In this adventure heroism is demanded and realized of unexpected characters. But unlike many novels, this one, in spite of the initial appearance of child-like characters (one would at least expect noble jungle or forest creatures), is never simple or predictable. The horror and pain are shocking. Readers can tell they are being confronted with Truth because they will find their souls exposed to Light that stuns and challenges. Nevertheless the power of hope is clear and promising for any and every person. (See Isaiah 59.) You won’t be sorry for choosing to spend time within this story.


Phyllis said...

Thanks for the review. I have loved everything I've read of Wangerin's so far, but I've never found this book. I heard him speak in person once and read one of his stories on stage: it was absolutely riveting. If you ever get a chance to read the children's book, Branta and the Golden Stone, it is one of my favourites.

DebD said...

I've enjoyed several Wangerin books, this one especially. It's always nice to find another fan of The Dun Cow.

Emily said...

I've never read Wangerin, but this looks like a "must read." Hopefully my library can get it for me. Thank you for the review.

Paula said...

Like Diane, I had trouble getting into the book, "Dun Cow", but about midway I could not stop!!
I found the book on Amazon.
How seriously the main charcter, Chauntecleer took his responsiblity to his people impressed me. In this book I was reminded there is evil out there, but through Jesus, it is defeated!