Posted On: Saturday - February 20th 2021 6:32PM MST
In Topics:   Immigration Stupidity  Treehuggers  Bible/Religion  Books
Between unz.com and Peak Stupidity commenters, I get book recommendations, not always even to me directly, but if they interest me, and I can get them easily, I'll usually read 'em. (I'm still catching up on one from Mr. Hail.)
Our illustrious commenter out of Deutschland, who sure likes Switzerland too, Dieter Kief, recommended a novel some months back, called Our Lady of the Forest, by David Guterson. In our few dozen book reviews (to be found here), we've only reviewed 4 novels. 2 of those focused very specifically on the immigration invasion problem, a specialty of this site, and 2 were prepper novels.
This review then will be reasonably short, due to this book being a novel**. I will not spoil the ending, except to say that I wasn't very satisfied with said ending.
Our Lady of the Forest is about a wayward young waif*** (~ 16 y/o) who supposedly sees visions of, and converses with, the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, in the forest in the Olympic Mountains. From the author's point of view, we don't know if little Ann Holmes is actually seeing Mother Mary or not, but that's part of the mystery. Well, there are a few other characters involved in those woods with her, also somewhat under-employed folks that go into the forest land picking mushrooms (for a living, not always necessarily to see things...) Nowadays, even 15 years ago, it is/was illegal Hispanic guys picking some other kind of plants in that area, but we'll get to the immigration aspect.
Because there are witnesses around, the continual sightings of the Mother Mary by the young lady end up becoming a big deal and a cause a big influx of pilgrims, media, hucksters, and Catholic officials. This happens over the course of a week or so and that is about the length of time of the story. Besides Ann's closest "friend" Carolyn, who becomes her pitch-lady, there are a few other characters that are developed, including Tom Cross, an ex-logger, and a fairly young Priest, Father Collins.
I'll say this about the book: Mr. Guterson knows of what he writes. I've written before regarding One Second After (the other prepper book reviewed here), that the author was told, by Newt Gingrich no less, to "write of what you know". The religious aspect of this novel is not what I mean, as I am not a Catholic, and this one would be probably even more interesting to a Catholic. I refer to the big woods in the Olympic Mountain range in the corner of Washington State. Peak Stupidity discussed before this favorite area of American wilderness in Part 5: The Wilderness of our looting by China series. I'm sure I can be convinced of more beauty elsewhere, but here's the picture again from that post and from the Olympic National Park.
This story takes place in private land, owned by a timber company, but it's got to be nearby.
Mr. Guterson knows his stuff on:
1) The lay of the land, the climate, and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest temperate rain forests. He also knows some very specific places there.
2) The economy of that region and how it was devastated 3 decades ago by the big restraints put on the logging industry.
3) The change in the quality of life for people due to huge immigration levels of ultra-foreigners.
Relating item (1) to the book now, besides describing the place so well, the author even has the name of a motel that I know of, in Port Angeles! For those who've read, or might read the book, this is not the one that Tom Cross is staying at. That one is not named.
On item (2), I WAS trying to keep this post short, so I won't get into the environment vs. economy argument in this post. There are two good sides to the issue, but I'll just say that the great decline of the logging industry is part of this novel, especially for the character Tom Cross. It so happens that his story has an immigration aspect to it. I wrote something already in paragraph 10 of the recent post Hotel Haiti - on Competence. Mr. Guterson does a great job with this, with no PIC holds barred.
The main characters in this novel are not doing very well in life, partly due to the economy of the region, but also due to the normal human foibles. Most of them are hopeful that the visions of Ann Holmes are indeed a miracle. There are the exceptions of the jaded Bishop from the Catholic Church, who has traveled to ascertain the validity of these sightings, and then Ann's pitch-lady and closest confidant Carolyn, who is the most despicable character in the book.
The sexual themes in the book are a little odd, as they sure don't show the good side of that activity. Another small thing I didn't like was that the character Carolyn was overdone. I'm not sure anyone could be that cynical, and her dialog is just too cynical and quick to be realistic. Here is one bigger flaw that I find just plain weird:
I read the LARGE PRINT edition of this book because it was all I could get, kind of embarrassing really, when I was traveling with it once. There were no quote marks. "Maybe it's just the large-print edition, and they couldn't work in big quote marks", I thought, but NO, it's not just the large print edition - this author does not put quotes around any of the dialogue! It's hard to tell where the talking starts and ends. Lots of times, as it went back and forth, I'd have to go back and count, "OK, who started this? Who's talking now?" I'd never seen this before, and it is just plain stupid. Was Mr. Guterson's quote-mark key on his keyboard broken? I would have emailed him a couple of thousand of them, if I had only known!
Hey Guterson: """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" . That's for your next novel. No charge. You're welcome!
With that out of my system, I'll conclude that Our Lady of the Forest was a decent read. It's got some deep religious thinking in it. It makes me want to get back out in the woods too, Mother Mary or no Mother Mary. That's probably not the review that Mr. Kief would have liked to read, but I welcome input in the comments from him or anyone. If you would like to add a section to this review, Dieter, I can edit it (like quote marks and such) and insert it here or put it in another post.
There are more important books to read in these times. I'll still give this one a thumb up. The other thumb is on the quote key, in case David Guterson calls back.
* Sorry, old Paul Shaffer music there, from the Dave Letterman late night show.
** I will say that one of the 2 prepper novels, The Mandibles, was a book for which Peak Stupidity wrote an almost endless review on due to our great interest. We ended up with 6 posts! Introduction, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Conclusion.
*** OK, I'm not sure what a waif is, really, but I seem to recall waifs are skinny, right? This girl is skinny, weak, and vulnerable.