Monday, November 9, 2009

The Four Corners - Christian Usera

This review is from my friend Dan (husband to Becca, father of almost two), who cracks me up, even when I can't understand a word he's saying...

Summary: "The Four Corners" is an anthology containing a series of folktales by Christian Usera. Each story is an inner journey into the heart of Light, Love, Truth, and Wisdom. Although written in a childish format, the style belies these complex surrealist proverbs. (Summary from book jacket- image from

My review: I tend to get all tingly at words like "complex surrealist proverbs," so I was rather looking forward to reading this book, which contains four short stories liberally illustrated with the author's own paintings. To my disappointment, I soon found that "complex" meant "incoherent," "surrealist" meant "paying little attention to things like plot, character, consistency, or grammar and spelling," and "proverbs" meant "heavy-handed preaching." Nor could the illustrations make up for the weakness of the text; they appeared hastily conceived and haphazardly executed.

The book seems unsure of who its target audience is. The tone veers from condescendingly childish to pompously faux-scriptural, while the stories themselves discuss grand themes (the creation of the world, the nature of the soul, moral laws, and humanity's quest for meaning) using sound bites drawn from the Barnes & Noble metaphysics section. And somehow, despite the book's claim of exploring "Light, Love, Truth, and Wisdom," the primary values I could discern involved misanthropy, a sense of pious superiority, latent sexism, and general disgust at the messiness of life.

To the author's credit, the stories improved somewhat from the earliest to the latest; if he spent the next few years dedicating the same degree of passion to developing the craft of storytelling (and painting) as he has to developing his personal brand of spiritual syncretism, perhaps his next work will be worthy of a more sympathetic review.

My rating: 1 star. I'm all for personal mythologies, esoteric philosophy, and unorthodox experiences of spirituality, but even Great Cosmic Truths suffer from a clumsy presentation--and Great Cosmic Truths are in short supply in this book.

Sum it up: Warmed-over New Age morality tales for the aesthetically numb.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails