Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Kindle Samples of Books about the Homeless

Because I write a "homeless" blog--whatever that is--I thought I'd peek in on what other writers were doing along the same general lines.

A Gift of Hope by Danielle Steele

In this book, Danielle Steele, who is line-by-line the worst writer of popular novels of all time (any one of her books is a great help to any struggling writer of fiction: look at what she does, then at all costs avoid doing the same thing), reveals that for eleven years she and a team of ten helpers went out "night after night" and "dealt with whatever we found, served three hundred people a night, three or four thousand a year," giving them high-quality clothes, umbrellas, and healthy food.   Main Idea:  Danielle and her van-driving team stopped a lot, jumped out, and handed enough bags of supplies and goodies to last "for weeks or even months."   Best Part:  Danielle claims that "for one shining instant, [the homeless] knew with total certainty that someone cared, and fell out of the sky [my emphasis] to help them" immediately after writing that she and her team jumped out of vans.  Also Danielle claims that her acts led the homeless to believe that things like this would happen again.  Maybe so.

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski

First off, Mike tells his readers that even though street people use four letter words frequently and in creative ways, he won't include them in his book.  After much prayer and pondering, Christian Mike and his friend Sam  decide to take a sermon's challenge to "Be the Christian you say you are" and voluntarily go on a grand six city, six month tour across America living as homeless men.  Best Part: to their credit, Mike and Sam admit at the outset that they "would not actually be homeless.[emphasis in original]  Any time things get too hairy they can hightail it home for more church and ice cream socials.  Main Idea:  Mike and Sam realize there are more ruined and hopeless people out there than most people can imagine, but this gives them hope because that gives God that much more work of redemption to do and makes him an even greater God.  Also:  While these guys set themselves strict rules--no credit card, bus fees only from pan-handling--all the talk of God and hope and redemption and miracles is just a smokescreen for an elaborate stunt.

Breakfast at Sally's: One Homeless Man's Inspirational Journey  by Richard LeMieux

Right off the bat, Richard tells a man he meets in a park that he's writing a book about "Homeless people . . . People I've met--interesting people.  People living, laughing, crying, struggling--people dying."   He's writing the book on a manual Underwood typewriter a kind man in a secondhand store gave him--along with some paper--free of charge when he told the man his dream of writing his story.  Best Part: After Richard ruins his typewriter by leaving it out in the rain, the very same man he met in the park surprises him at a church charity meal with another typewriter and some paper.  Richard takes this seeming coincidence as a sign that he must keep writing.  Main Idea:  As a general rule, being homeless (actually, so far in the sample this guy has a van, money to keep it rolling, and a dog for company) brings out the cliche'd worst in people's style, a kind of vacuous, slack-faced smiling trudge through the banal with plenty of unneccessary adverbs and exclaimation marks.  Also:  Any book that opens with a hitchhiker called "C" pulling a book by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers out of his rucksack and reading from it aloud is off to a wretched start.

Of course, I need to sample more of this stuff, but it doesn't look promising.

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