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The Alphabet of Grace Paperback – March 10, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Frederick Buechner's The Alphabet of Grace is a small but lyrical volume of essays that moves through a single day in three chapters. It is no particular day, and yet, as Buechner suggests, each day of life is an invitation to be truly alive. "Live a day of it and see," he writes. "Nobody claims that it will be entirely painless, but no matter. It is your birthday, and there are many presents to open. The world is to open."

This gets us very close to the sweet center of this little book--and of Buechner's work more generally. He makes no claims for himself as special; "most of the times I am indistinguishable from the rest of the herd that jostles and snuffles at the great trough of life." But he also knows how to listen, how to pay attention to the small moments of life where grace in fact breaks through. Two apple branches clack together: this becomes the metaphor for the "clack-clack" of his life, which is also the sign of "the occasional, obscure glimmering through of grace." Sometimes, this book reminds us, God comes not in the whirlwind but in the still small voice of our ordinary moments. --Doug Thorpe

About the Author

Frederick Buechner, author of more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction, is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and was honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent work is Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060611790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060611798
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a tough little book--beautiful, but demanding of the reader. Like great poetry, everything about the book, including its structure and multiple levels of meaning, work together to reinforce its theme--which is fundamentally "why are we here?" That's maybe the most basic question each of us faces. This book provides a thoughtful, nuanced response, and holds up a mirror for us to respond ourselves. After a couple of false starts, I got through it and it changed my life. Really.
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I thought this book was very insightful. Buechner has a way with words that rival many a poet. He crafts his thoughts into images that stirred my heart and challenged my soul. A good read for anyone searching for meaning in this crazy life.
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This book celebrates The Divine in the smallest of things: the movement of trees, the space between letters in a word. It transcends theological and dogmatic boundaries and invites us all to rejoice in all that is God.
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By A Customer on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Buechner has a way of bringing the tough questions we all ponder to the surface in this great book. Using a poetic, narrative style, he allows the reader to walk through one day of his life and to enter his brain as he questions the meaning of life and the purpose of our existence. It's not an easy read, and I think Buechner intended it to be this way. If is was too easy, we'd be content to whiz through it and move on with things, just as we often do in our lives...he's teaching us to live a little differently.
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There were glimmers of joy for me in this book. It is brief, so even if you don't "get" Buechner you won't lose too much in reading this book. The Alphabet of Grace is a meandering memoir through an ordinary day. Buechner's observations about his surroundings are at times brilliant and illuminating. At other times, they just don't work. His writing in my opinion often comes off as one step too clever, giving the reader the impression of something contrived rather than crafted. That said, there are nuggets of wisdom and beautiful sections of the book, but in the end those were not enough to make this an above average work.
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As an author, I try to read only great writers, always hoping to glean from them. I've read most of this wise man's work; and this one stirred my soul most deeply. [...]
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This book has been a staple in my pastoral library for years. I purchased the Kindle edition to give me another option in using the material. Buechner has a way of making complex theological thoughts accessible for all.
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Frederick Buechner has a way with words. I can say that anything he writes, you should buy and read and savor every word.
He really was meant to write about his faith. Just incredible how he puts sentences together, so simple, but so beautiful.
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