Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

I have trouble telling people things I think they don't want to hear, so I am uncomfortable writing this review of The Noticer by Andy Andrews. But I made a commitment to the publisher to write a review in my blog, so I will bite the bullet and write the thing.
As far as a work of fiction goes, the book was an enjoyable read and contained a little food for thought. Each chapter seemed take a concept and illustrate it, much in the style of Aesop's Fables.
Substantive content was lacking, except for the dozen or so unrelated, moralistic statements that seemed to form the skeleton of his work. If they came from any particular source, it appeared to be a collection of currently popular books, pop culture and e-mail chain letters. For example, Google searchs on some of his few pithy statements resulted in more than four hundred thousand hits. In short, there was nothing new in the book.
Andrews' unifying theme for his otherwise unrelated extended illustrations was a mystical character named Jones, from whose role the book's title was coined. Jones' role was to apply the pithy statements to various life situations and help the characters notice that the context of their situations was greater than their own selfcentered focus would allow them to see. Jones' identity was vaporous enough for the reader to apply his own interpretation of who he is. He could be a Humanist, an angel, a Shaolin monk, Jesus, Buddha, Jiminy Cricket, or any other self-effacing do-gooder of the reader's experience or imagination. Perhaps that is why the book normally receives such good reviews: the reader sees what he wants to see and thinks Andrews put it there. [Ambiguity may be the key to popularity.]
A preacher could value this book as a source of sermon illustrations. Andrews' ability to put flesh on the bones of his ideas is his strength. Each chapter of the book appears to come from his taking a moral, stating it clearly, applying it to a difficult life situation, and putting it into Jones' mouth.
In a culture that has lost its ties to the Bible, the book has some value, but it should not be considered a Christian book; it does not point people to the Bible or to Jesus. I give the experience three stars.