Full Disclosure: Matthew Paul Turner is a good friend of mine, and I was provided with a free copy of this book for review (for that matter, I read several sections of it as it was being written). That being said, if it wasn't a good book, I'd just conveniently never review it rather than fabricating a falsely glowing review.
In his latest offering, "Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost", Matthew Paul Turner gives us a memoir chronicling his somewhat turbulent relationship with the Christian music subculture/industry. The story spans from Matthew's childhood brushes with "Christian" fame, via a fundamentalist version of "Star Search" and a sort of one-sided friendship with teenage southern gospel "stars", to his present day observations and experiences. Turner, who in my opinion is equal parts humorist and satirist, is genuinely funny. He invites us to laugh with him as he recounts his college ambition to become "the Christian Michael Jackson". Don't get me wrong, though. Often, in the middle of side-splitting laughter, Turner will sneak up on you with a poignancy that will break your heart when you least expect it. It should also be noted that Turner isn't just some guy who's experience with the industry consists of listening to Christian radio. Though he claims to have been unqualified for the position, he is the former editor of CCM Magazine.
In all honesty, I think Matthew's writing gets better with every book. He has an uncanny ability to use humor to take an honest look at something, warts and all, while still speaking fondly of it. His narrative shines light in some dark places in the Christian music industry, while somehow retaining an impression of hopefulness. While Matthew unflinchingly uses humor to raise really good questions, he never comes across as mean or condescending. It frankly comes across as if he's talking about a quirky, stumbling relative, who is deeply flawed...a relationship that both blessed and scarred him. He doesn't attempt many answers, as it wouldn't really serve the genre...but he does raise many useful and helpful questions. For some, this book may work like therapy, providing a kind of catharsis. For others it may work like a flashlight, illuminating some things that were obscured from their view. I highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humor and a love of music.
Note: As we are about to begin a discussion on this book at our church, I thought I would re-post my review
I freely admit that I love Donald Miller's writing style. Since I first read Blue Like Jazz, picking up one of Miller's new books has felt like sitting down for a good conversation with an old friend. His new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, is no different. Written in his typical memoir style, Miller invites us into a soul-searching re-examination of his own life. Apparently, after the success of Blue Like Jazz, Miller floundered a bit. He wrote a few other (in my opinion, excellent) other books, that did not sell nearly as well. He seems to have felt as if his life had lost its direction and momentum. His self-examination began after he was contacted by a movie production company who wanted to turn Blue Like Jazz, into a movie. As he began to work on the script with a couple of guys from the production company, he discovers that they must develop a "narrative arc" for the story. Miller began to learn about what makes movies compelling, and even attended a seminar on "story" by Robert McKee. As the book proceeds, Miller begins to apply the principles of Story to life, and even faith. The results are profound and compelling. Miller's keen wit and unflinching honest will take you from laughter to tears and back again...often in the same paragraph. You will be drawn in as he attempts to find his estranged father and deals with relational commitment issues. I could not put this book down (even as I was scrambling to finish the coursework for my Masters Degree). In short, I loved it. I think you will too. AE