Review – Peace At The Edge Of Uncertainty

Front Cover

This book really hit me by surprise.

I thought I was going to read a nice sentimental book about the regrets of all the things not said before a son loses his father, and so on. Well, it was like that, but it was so much more. Peace At The Edge Of Uncertainty by Neil Hanson takes a look at our worries, fears, and the myths associated with the afterlife. It is as much about those close to us as it is about ourselves. Mr. Hanson makes a concerted effort at the beginning of the book to be as non-denominational as possible, even going as far as using the word G-d throughout the entire book when referring to a singular overseeing being or force that sees and knows all. I, myself, not being of the Christian faiths was comforted by this and decided to use my own word in place of G-d, as Mr. Hanson encourages us to do.

This book is non-fiction, however, it read as fiction to me for the most part. I mean this as a compliment. Mr. Hanson chooses to put the book in the form of a letter to his father, who passed fifteen years prior to the writing of the letter. A fact that is telling in and of itself. It seems that it took him that long to come to terms with his own feelings and beliefs to put this in writing. Even at this point, he is still trying to put things right.

He talks of unexplained things that have happened to him at certain points in his life and is able to relate them to the death of his father, who is suddenly in a coma one day and the doctors are waiting for him (the eldest of 3 siblings) to make a decision as to whether or not to insert a feeding tube into his father. The fact that their mother wasn’t a part of their group seems complicated, and is dealt with later in a heartfelt confession from the author. Their father is being kept alive by a respirator, but if they decide to insert a feeding tube, it becomes very difficult to decide to remove it at a later time. At that point, it would be a conscious decision to starve him to death by refusing him food.

His two other siblings come to agreement rather quickly that this wouldn’t be what their father wanted at all. So, after a few days they decide to take their father off of the respirator. He doesn’t die right away. Something that they were warned about by the doctors when they were removing the respirator. All at once they are keeping vigil at their father’s bedside 24 hours a day. They had all decided to be sure that someone would be there when he passed, even though the doctors assured him that there was little to no brain activity in their father, they still talked and read to him. It is the author who spends the majority of time at bedside, taking most of the night shifts.

Rather than carry on, giving you my own play by play of the book, I would much rather advise you to read it. It doesn’t matter what you believe or even if you don’t believe anything at all, this book will still speak to you on unexpected levels. Have you ever had an experience that you couldn’t explain? Most people have, they just don’t talk about them as much as UFO sightings, or possible ghost sightings in old houses. Why do you think that is? Mr Hanson mentions this, and decides that science would simply ignore what it couldn’t explain and the leaders of just about any faith on earth would pass them off as ‘evil’, ‘unholy’ or other kinds of anti-religion sentiment. For what would the faiths of man do if there was suddenly something clearly and totally explained for all of us to see? For the most part, it seems to me, all of the faiths serve themselves. If there were suddenly total proof of something that contradicted any or all of the religions of the world, what would happen then? Well, my own two cents is that history will repeat itself, as it continually does, and there would be war. With each other, with whatever had been made clear, a holy war or any other possible way to destroy the answer to all of man’s questions and problems.

Sorry if I started to get a little deep there, but there you have it. That is the kind of thing I found myself thinking about as I read the book. Mr. Hanson takes us through some very personal experiences from his life, and from his time at the side of his father’s deathbed. He describes his experience of seeing ‘light’ and hearing everyone in the universe speaking/singing in harmony and yet complete and total silence at the same time.

As mentioned in the first words of my review, this book took me by surprise. It took me to places I didn’t expect to go. I believe that it will do the same for you despite all that I have told you about this book. I haven’t given you an exact retelling of his story, but I have given you an idea of what to expect. Peace At The Edge Of Uncertainty is one of the most apt titles I have come across this year. In the end, Mr. Hanson finds his peace and uncertainty is the constant that drives this story and his journey.

This is worth reading, if only to face your own uncertainties about faith, the after-life, or just living in the now. I felt all the better for having read it myself. I hope you have the courage to do so as well.

Neil Hanson

NEIL HANSON

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Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book Of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau

Thumbing Through Thoreau

When I was first asked if I was interested in reviewing this book, I wanted to jump at it immediately. I have always been a fan of Thoreau’s and thought that this might be a really cool biography of him. Well, it isn’t quite like that. This book is a collection of Thoreau’s quotes all through his career. The book was compiled by Kenny Luck, with images from Jay Luke and Ren Adams. The book is divided into three sections; Society & government, spirituality & nature, and love.

It may seem trivial, to create three classes and then to cram Thoreau into them, but that isn’t it at all. In fact, Thoreau himself created these ‘sections’ if you will. What Kenny Luck has done, is to take a huge amount of written word from Thoreau and put individual quotes into a meaningful and at times beautiful collection.

The first section on government is revealing in so many ways, about his views on government and how little it should have to do with governing and with the everyday person. It is easy to tell that somewhere, somehow he has experienced such a bad government, that he is absolutely distrustful of any government. However, we have the clarity of many years of hindsight, and we can see how he saw his current time period with such clarity that it almost seems as if he were scripted to think and feel as he did. We are able to see and hear about virtually everything and anything that happens in the world today. Did Thoreau have his own internet, or satellite TV? For he truly seems to have such knowledge and foresight of his own time, that he is and was seen as a prophet.

How then, can a man who is able to see his times and his government so clearly, can then speak so eloquently and with such beauty about the world around him? How can he put such beautifully chosen words together to describe what nature can’t? Nature can only be…. Thoreau can see and interpret and describe in words. Truly a gifted man who can see and talk about the depth of mankind and the lengths one can go simply through believing he can. He is full of such passion for nature itself, and you could even argue that he was one of the first “green warriors”, and protector of Mother Nature herself. Truly, he saw more than any of his contemporaries were either capable of or just weren’t able to convey. It can bring a tear to your eye in the way he is able to grasp what he sees, feels, and believes. Certainly, I was close at times.

Image from Thumbing Through Thoreau

I simply could not prepare a review of this fine work without mentioning the simple beauty of the artwork throughout this book. Created by Jay Luke and Ren Adams, the images at once appear to be overly simple, yet as you continue though the book, you start to see the simple intricacies  that are placed in them. Anyone preparing a book such as this could very easily and most likely would go for photography or for elaborate coloured landscape portraits, but this was not the case. These images truly do the quotations justice, and that is saying a lot.

One could be amazed at what we have seen from one man. All of the seemingly obvious juxtaposition would complete such a complicated man, yet yearning for such simplicity. No, there’s more indeed. He goes on in a third section of this book to talk about love. Hardly a simple or consistent area of contemplation.

Quote from Thoreau

All I can say is that this book took me  on a journey of Thoreau, the man, as much as, or probably more than,  discovering the writer and artists. I can only think of this as a compliment, for they neither overpowered or got in the way of who he really was and what his enduring message was. I think that if anyone is going to attempt a book like this, then they should strive for results such as this.

For a person who generally doesn’t read books such as this, I found myself absolutely captivated. I couldn’t stop flipping the pages and admiring each and every image and quote. There is a real art to how the quotes are ordered and grouped. On top of that, there is a real art to the pairing of the quotes to the images. Truly this book is much more than a tribute to the man, although it does that in an amazing fashion. This is a book that brings Thoreau to the front again. Something that should happen time and again. Right now is one of those times.

~ Todd Hurley

The Hurley Edition (www.toddhurley.ca)

*With thanks to Tribute Books for providing an advance copy of this book for review.

Think Of A Number by John Verdon

This may very well be the first book identified as a “must-read” here on The Hurley Edition. Think Of A Number is a fast-paced, read-through-the-night, unputdownable book. It had me reading until well past my bedtime and all through the day. If I could have, I would have read it all in one sitting.
John Verdon has hit it out of the park with his début novel, Continue reading “Think Of A Number by John Verdon”