Last weekend I read Frederick Buechner’s Yellow Leaves.  Now I decided I would write about Buechner this week before I saw Simon Holt’s article.

I was introduced to the writings of Frederick Buechner while I was living in the US.  I was particularly challenged by the idea of a Presbyterian minister who almost won the Pulitzer prize.  Yellow Leaves fills in some holes I did not know about Buechner – especially as I have read little of his autobiographical works.  I am not sure if it was a professor at Fuller Seminary or a class mate or a book I was reading that mentioned him.  I eventually read his dictionaries which are delightful collections of vignettes and ideas on biblical characters.  I read some of his sermons, gave his book on Jacob to a friend and collected more of his works.  I even introduced one brother-in-law to him.

Yellow Leaves is Buechner’s latest and quite possibly last book.  The introduction starts as:

I can still write sentences and paragraphs, but for some five or six years now I haven’t been able to write books.  Maybe after more than thirty of them the well has at last run dry.   Maybe age eighty, I no longer have the right kind of energy.  Maybe the time has simply come to stop.

This is not an affected kind of writing but much the style of this book and others.  Buechner is fully aware of his limitations and yet uses language delightfully.

My favourite dictionary entry in Peculiar Treasures has to do with Joseph as Buechner raises the issue of what is a greater accomplishment for God rescuing Israel or making Joseph a real human being?  And the delight of seeing the gospel as a fairy tale is not as bad as it sounds when you read it in Buechner’s Telling the Truth, which is why it took me such a long time to read the book.

So you can see how much I like Buechner.  But as Buechner says, for today,  “Maybe the time has simply come to stop”.

Advertisements