A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (by Donald Miller)

It's only in the last couple of years that I've discovered the books by the American Christian writer Donald Miller. I quite enjoyed the semi-autobiographical 'Blue Like Jazz', the book that became a surprise best-seller; I very much liked the more theological 'Searching for God knows what'.

I had 'A Million Miles in a Thousand Years' on my private wishlist for some time, hoping that it would eventually come out in paperback. But at last it was on special offer (in hardback) so I went ahead and bought it from The Book Depository. I'm very pleased that I did. One of the introductory bits of blurb said that I would't 'enjoy' or 'like' the book. I disagree. I decidely enjoyed and liked it, while finding it extremely thought-provoking in places, sometimes disturbing, sometimes amusing.

It's the story of what happens when two film-makers want to make a movie about Donald Miller's life. He learns - and explains, with sometimes lengthy anecdotes - about the ways film characters vary from real life, and in doing so explores some of his own hang-ups and longings.

He learns, too, about living a story, at a stage where his own life was somewhat paused after the launch of his previous book. He goes to seminars about story-writing, and delves pretty deeply into the concepts. He digresses into the stories of some of his good friends and their families... and finally decides that, as well as helping to write the story of the fictional Don Miller, he probably needs to kick-start a new sub-plot of his own life story .

So, amongst other things he finds himself on a physically painful long bike-ride to raise money for charity, and also on an emotionally difficult journey trying to find out about the father he never knew. Written in his apparently random way, with a simple, often rambling style and frequent digressions, there's a great deal to think about on almost every page.

Donald Miller is a Christian, and so there are references to God and the church and the Bible; but he doesn't write in jargon, nor does he preach. God is real to him in a way that isn't often presented in Christian books. Miller's style is down-to-earth, at times describing the minutiae of his life in a way which might make some traditionalists hold their hands up in horror.

Highly readable, often moving, frequently thought-provoking. I enjoyed it very much, despite the fact that I wasn't supposed to, and would definitely recommend it.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 7th February 2011

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