Clearing Away the Rubbish (by Adrian Plass)

I’ve been a great fan of Adrian Plass’s writing ever since I first picked up his original ‘Sacred Diaries’ book, over twenty years ago. I found myself almost helpless with laughter at times, yet also inspired and with much to think about. He is a gifted writer and speaker who so often manages to push aside the jargon and religiosity of the Christian life.

It’s nearly nine years since I first read ‘Clearing away the rubbish’, which is a collection of poems and sketches. It has a general aim of helping people to get rid of the clutter that so often consumes our minds and hearts, to find Jesus and realise that he truly does love us.

Adrian Plass writes from the heart, some of the poems stemming from his depressive illness, some from his time working with severely disadvantaged children, sometimes from his own childhood confusion and uncertainty. Others are sillier; deliberately so, mimicking some of the foolish things we often take for granted. The sketches are designed to be performed as part of talks or presentations, and ownership of the book grants a limited license to perform any of its pieces, so long as they are in an amateur context, not for profit.

This isn’t my favourite of Plass’s books. Poems aren’t really my thing, and while I appreciated some of the humour in the sketches, I’m sure they would work much better if seen on stage. I did like the author’s own comments about each of the pieces, and why they were included, but at the same time found myself increasingly irritated that, in quite a few of them, the initial commentary gave ‘spoilers’, meaning that the punch-line or point of the piece immediately following was rather a damp squib.

It took me until over half-way through the book to realise how to solve this problem, by reading each introductory commentary AFTER the piece concerned, so my gripe, if I can call it that, is with the publisher for not making this more straightforward.

It’s not a book to read straight through; I read a few pages each day for about ten days, so I had a chance to think about them. I’m not sure it’s even a book intended for people like me who have not the smallest inkling towards public speaking or performance.

But most of the contents were interesting, and I think there could be gems in here for someone wanting to make a visual or verbal point as part of a presentation on the topic of ‘clearing away the rubbish’, so would recommend it in a low-key way.

Not currently in print, but can fairly often be found second-hand either online or in charity shops or church bookstalls.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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