Andrew Klavan is a multi-faceted individual. He is an acclaimed suspense novelist whose stories have been adapted into movies starring Clint Eastwood and Michael Douglas. Since the 2001 terror attack he’s produced a series of web based videos that allow him to advocate for conservative views on a range of topics. It was in this capacity I first noticed him. In my opinion Klavan is one of the brightest and funniest people on the conservative side of the fence. I’ve read several of his novels and found them equally engaging. He is undoubtedly a gifted and entertaining writer. But the full title of his present work, “The Great Good Thing (A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ),” made me stop and consider whether the traits that resonated with me in his other work would translate well in an autobiographical story of religious awakening.
Well, I’m glad to say they do. I won’t specify my own religious beliefs but I do come from a background where upbringing has steeped me in the Christian world. And my feelings are very sympathetic to religious people. We’ll leave me at that. Of added attraction is that Mr. Klavan and I are of about the same age and both grew up in the New York City area. The world he speaks of is extremely familiar to me. All these factors made the material comfortable for me.
So, now you know I liked it. Will you? Let’s review what this book is and isn’t. It’s not an in-depth story of every facet of his life. We do not find out all the technical details of how he honed his writing style. We will not hear anecdotes of his acquaintanceships with famous actors and writers. We don’t hear details of his other conversion, from a liberal to a conservative. What we will hear is the personal history from early childhood right up to fairly recent years that impacted and informed his spiritual journey. His family life and his education, much as they are with most men, are the arenas where his search for meaning and truth began. His circumstances are unique but the questions are universal and timeless. Unless this is the subject matter you are looking for, you shouldn’t read this book or this review.
Okay, if you’re still there, let’s move on to what I’d like to say about “The Great Good Thing.” I found it to be an interesting read. Klavan is writing about some extremely difficult, sometimes depressing events in his life. But the writing is never slow. The story propels itself along. The emotions represented run the gamut from comical to desperate but the writing style is never over-wrought which is especially unusual when describing religious experiences. I would describe the effect as lyrical. And this I attribute to the combination of the experience the author is describing along with his very great talents as a writer. If I were to compare this book it would be to C.S. Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy.” Both books describe the journey of an intelligent witty author from atheism to faith. Both books include a measure of humor and pain. Both books are well written. Both men reveal themselves down to their very souls. I found the book inspirational and satisfying. The title is apt.