The Most Important Thing Happening
Steele, M. (2013). The Most Important Thing Happening. Colorado, USA: David C. Cook.
[Genre: Christian literature, Short story anthology]
Thank you to Netgalley and David C. Cook for my advanced reader copy.
The Most Important Thing Happening is a collection of eleven short stories from the whimsical to the terrifying. A boardwalk peddler sells a desperate man one ounce of God. A high-powered businessman helps his oft-ignored son with his word-definition homework assignment. A man in a blue jean jacket finds himself inextricably drawn to the most important thing happening, wherever that may be. An origami monkey goes on a voyage on discovery.
It's not until half way through The Most Important Thing Happening that you realise these stories don't stand alone. Characters from one start showing up in the background of the others and you realise as you progress that you're meeting someone you have before, just from a different focus or perspective. Finally, everything comes together in a tangle of stories colliding in order to give one very important message. . .now if only I could figure out what it was.
There is no doubt that this book is extremely cleverly written. There are few people who could manage the intense plotting that it takes to bring eleven seemingly unrelated stories together with the complexity and sense of amazement that Mark Steele manages. It's brilliant fun getting to story seven or eight and realising that it's making story two make more sense. But, in the end it just felt a bit empty, as if something went over my head. And maybe it did, as the publishers blurb seems to suggest that there is some great and powerful realisation that we're meant to have sometime near the end, that would help the reader get closer to God. I have to admit, for me God was hard to find here. Unfortunately, I think the lack of 'getting it' ruined this one a little for me. It meant other irritations with the construction of the novel harder to swallow, such as the complete lack of speech marks and the many run on sentences (which could just be bad formatting, but you get the impression is the author attempting to be 'literary').
On the plus side, there is some true gems in here. The title story is an absolutely fantastic and fascinating concept, beautifully explored. 'blah BLAH blah' is an interesting treatise on fame. 'oz. of God' is as scary as it is amazing. It's just to bad it didn't quite pull together for me.