The Yellow Leaves by Frederick Buechner (Book Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Yellow Leaves by Frederick Buechner (Book Review)

I've long been a fan of Frederick Buechner (Godric, Whistling in the Dark, Book of Bebb, etc.), who I consider one of America's greatest living authors, and a guy who could have been mentioned in the same breath as Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer if things had gone a little differently.

The Yellow Leaves is a different kind of book for Buechner, who writes fantastic novels and vivid, imaginative theology. Rather than a full-length work, this one is a collection of short pieces and poems--and may well be the last book Buechner publishes, as he's pretty advanced in years.

As I read the intro, where Buechner explains that he hasn't had the wherewithal to put a longer volume together for some time, I wondered if The Yellow Leaves would convey the same weight, the same gritty lyricism, as earlier works. The short answer is yes.

I imagine that when one writes as prolifically and for as many years as Frederick Buechner, the job becomes increasingly autobiographical, and that's certainly the case here, as he puts down recollections of old friends, early adventures, and extended family--but with color, wisdom, and sympathy that gradually erase any idea of The Yellow Leaves being an afterthought.

The book is sometimes wistful, as Buechner gently probes the "what ifs" of his journey, but the primary note he strikes is one of well-aged love. The Yellow Leaves is a memoir through a camera lens, portraits captured by a man who carefully observed and kindly engaged the various lives that brushed against his, regardless of whether they were cripples or sophisticates, warm or austere.

**1/2 out of *** Well worth your time.

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.



Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife