Friday, September 15, 2023

Writing Meditation by Greg Gilbert on Sun House

Sun House by David James Duncan
Meditation by Greg Gilbert

This is not a review of David James Duncan’s Sun House, more a Writing Meditation of gratitude. Sun House is a looong booook, which is one of its many attributes.


The novel’s length matters because it engulfs the reader in an immersive experience, “immersive” as in sensory and extrasensory stimulation. Sun House is rhythmic and embodies various forms of meditation, worship, prayer, awe, reverence, and zazen. An oceanic rhythm carries the lives of the characters as they experience duhkha, Sanskrit for suffering; discovery, and moments of satori, the genuineness of each passing moment, the eternal NOW.


When a boy’s mother dies, we embody his rage as he bicycles wildly through traffic. When a young Jesuit descends into a crises of faith, we suffer with him. As characters fall in love, the writing swells with their passion, becomes romantic, hopeful, euphoric, and at times disillusioned. In chapter length effusions of satori, Duncan surrenders his mindful prose to celebratory releases that lift away from the page like sea mist. These are important rhythmic, meditative elements in a book that is itself an experience. Think of breathing, taking it in and releasing it, becoming lost in thinking and then releasing your thoughts. Think of becoming enmeshed in the natural world, of being tested by it, physically enduring its challenges, and then finding release in its glaciated summits and healing waters.


In his afterwards, the author explains that our divided world calls for celebratory answers rather than ceaseless condemnations. Sun House is rich in information about the earth, its dwindling gifts and enduring miracles. The earth is as much a character as anyone in this epic story. Sun House is a love song to the natural world. Duncan reveals the musicality and interconnectedness in all things, wind, rain, and high altitude thermal ponds. His writing sings of the music in dulcimers, folk singers, electric guitars, human voices, and the natural world, all of it without cliché because his writing is centered in the authentic experience.


The author gave 16 years of his life to creating this gift, and among my friends are those who have awaited his new book as though it were a visit from a long separated loved one. Sun House is a smart, funny book, one that satisfied my longing for the wit, humor, and earth loving reverence of Ruth Ozeki, Richard Powers, Charlotte McConaghy, Herman Hesse, TomRobbins, Kurt Vonnegut, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder (ants and pebbles / In thethin loam), Thoreau, Rilke, and too many others to name here. Sun House is aname for the earth.

If you give yourself the gift of this book, you will be paying it forward for David James Duncan and all of us who yearn for a time of healing.

-  -  -  -  -

Greg Gilbert is the author of Afflatus.

More info

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.