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The Storytellers' Collection: Tales of Faraway Places Board book – August 5, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Since the Christian fiction market is sorely in need of a good short story collection, it's especially disappointing that this set, featuring some of that market's most popular novelists, falls flat. The series opens with Jerry Jenkins (of Left Behind fame) offering a didactic two-page vignette that's not even fiction; one wonders why editor Carlson chose to begin so inauspiciously. The stories are "tales of faraway places," many of which recount Christian life in foreign lands. In "Is This the Day?" Randy Alcorn seems more intent on educating American readers about Christian persecution in the People's Republic of China than he does with telling a memorable story. Angela Elwell Hunt, who recently won a Christy Award for apocalyptic fiction, also wields a heavy-hitting agenda in "The Farthest Country," which depicts representatives of heaven and hell as dueling real estate agents who attempt to convince an elderly man to reserve an eternal condo with their "landlords" (God and Satan). The collection's best work comes from award-winning Anne deGraaf, who, unlike many of the other contributors, has spent significant blocks of time in the cultures she writes about (Eastern Europe and Africa). Sharon Ewell Foster, Robert Elmer, Athol Dickson and Liz Curtis Higgs also offer above-average tales, all concerning young women coming of age and coming to terms with cross-cultural ambiguities. Despite these more memorable yarns, however, the collection as a whole falls victim to its determination to privilege moral lessons over good storytelling. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Collecting stories by the foremost names in Christian fiction, editor Carlson, a author of the "Whispering Pines" series, provides a glimpse of the writing styles of Jerry B. Jenkins, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock , and other too numerous to name. The standout is Sharon Ewell Foster's "A Trip to Senegal," about a young black woman whose light skin makes her an object of ridicule until she meets a Senegalese hairdresser who shows her the inner beauty God gave her. Another exceptional story, "Is this the Day I Die?" by Alcorn, portrays China's reign of terror against unregulated churches and one man's discovery of the depth of his faith. The stories inspire hope, faith, and love. This excellent introduction to a wide variety of contemporary Christian authors is required for all collections. All royalties from the book will fund The Jesus Film Project, a multilingual video reenactment of Jesus's life.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
All of the authors contributed the royalty they should have received to the Jesus Film project.
I believe my favorite, although many of the authors have already become favorites of mine before I found this book, was the story titled "At the Village Gate" by Sigmund Brouwer. It had such a surprise ending. I was caught off guard. But many others were a close, tying second place.
This is also a value purchase for any church library. Treat your church friends and buy it for your church. You and they will be blessed. I was.
The collection of 29 stories as a package is rather so-so, with many rather "ordinary" stories that fail to stir emotion or the heart. But there are a few outstanding efforts that are certainly worth reading. Probably the three best stories in the collection are Randy Alcorn's "Is This The Day?" which although weighed down by excessive informative detail, is a thrilling story about persecution in China with a suspenseful climactic twist; Athol Dickson's "Hannah's Home", a stunning tale of the love of an adoptive mother with a breath-taking twist; and Robin Jones Gunn's "Innocent as Doves", which makes you appreciate the riches of having your own copy of the Bible with a realistic tale about Bible smuggling in East Europe in the days of communism. Not quite on the same level, but also relatively good are Terri Blackstock's "So Shine", a fascinating and gripping conversion story which looks at a Christian from the point of view of an unbeliever; Robert Elmer's "Maren's Flag", a story about two women's misunderstanding of each other; Angela Hunt's "The Farthest Countries" which runs the danger of being trite, but describes heaven and hell in terms of real estate; and Karen Kingsbury's "A Reason To Live", a story of God's special providence involving a baby girl in a Russian orphanage.
The rest of the stories in this collection, however, were nothing more than ordinary at best. I also encountered various theological difficulties, on numerous points where the theology of the authors clearly differed from my own, and this naturally also detracted from my enjoyment. Examples include views on grace, ecumenism, revelation, universalism, forgiveness, lotteries and angels. Is it worth it? Perhaps for the few outstanding stories, but aside from these if you miss this collection you don't miss much. Volume 2 in this series is a much better buy. -GODLY GADFLY
I was holding my breath as I waited to find out if the family would be shot for gathering to praise the Lord. It's a good thing that it is a rare tale, because I couldn't take that much suspense on a regular basis!