Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty

When his father suffers a reaction to medication, an adult son is called home to Kansas City.  The son arrives and discovers that his father is in a coma and life support intervention is keeping him alive. 

In Peace at the Edge of Uncertainty, Neil Hanson has written a stream-of-consciousness, non-fiction meditation on what it means to sit vigil in a hospital ICU and ruminate about the relationship he shared with a troubled, emotionally distant father.

Hanson structures the narrative in the form of a heartfelt letter to his father, written 15 years after his death, where he gives witness to his father's last days. The letter concept eventually strays far from the original intent and evolves into something of a philosophical epistle on the nature and meaning of life and death, as well as the tug toward tying up loose ends via forgiveness and reconciliation. Hanson is a bright, learned man, a do-it-yourself spiritualist, who is not an advocate of "organized" religion - although he ties in different religious traditions including Judaic, Christian and New Age. Throughout, Hanson grapples with his faith, which is steeped in a mystical, out-of-body experience from his teenage years.

The book is slight on specific scenes that anchor the relationship of this father and son, but Hanson writes poetic passages that ambitiously try to give voice to the depth of his feelings. It is touching, yet bittersweet, that Hanson felt closest to his father during his dad's final exit from the world.

In the epilogue of this brief book, Hanson writes, "My life is no different from the life of anyone else . . . " Nothing could be further from the truth. The transformation that Hanson undergoes in his father's final days is extraordinary. He is touched by ethereal graces that enable him to experience, with great euphoria, divine presence(s) in the form of lights, angels and singing choirs. How many--believers or not--can make such claims? And while the gift of divine presence is what abides and sustains Hanson as he continues on his spiritual journey, the reader is left with many questions . . . but perhaps that is the point.

High Prairie Press, $17.95, First Paperback Edition, 978-0982639108, 132 pp.
Publication Date: May 3, 2010
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

NOTE: In order to write this review, I received a copy of this book from Tribute Books (a book blog tour company)