Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review: "Hear No Evil" by Matthew Paul Turner

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.

1 comment:

Matthew Paul Turner said...

Thank you for this, friend. :)