13 April 2014

Review of Thomas Merton's Echoing Silence

Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of WritingEchoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing by Thomas Merton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but didn't get a lot out of it as far as the "vocation of writing" is concerned. It is more memoir-ish, dealing with Merton's own vocation. And that leads to another concept: I think it has to do with his vocation to be a Catholic monk and a writer. Vocation in the narrower/earlier sense: i.e. a calling, rather than the more broader/more current sense of a career/job. And I really expected more about writing itself--as a skill/practice. There is some of that, but as you probably realize (and I missed) is that it deals more with being a Catholic monk, contemplative, and a writer in the world, in the context of readers and fellow-writers, etc.

That being said, there are a few ideas and concepts that are important across the board for writers from any lifestyle. So, that begs the question: is it worth reading to get those few nuggets that one may find in other books on writing? I guess that depends on the potential reader's interest.

If you're interested in Christian writing/writing as a Christian: yes
If you're interested in Thomas Merton's writing in general: yes
If you're interested in being a monk and a writer: definitely
If you are simply interested in becoming a writer: there's probably a better book out there, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read this one....

The things I like most about this book is that it is a sort of anthology, with parts taken from several of Merton's books, so it's an introduction to his writing while trying to focus on the vocation of writing. There are a lot of good thoughts within the pieces included. Thoughts on life and on living, but that are (imho) not that pertinent to writing.

I recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But, if you're looking for a book on how to be a writer don't expect too much.

Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing

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Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing

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