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Posted March 5, 2011
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J.W. Nicklaus is a word artist. He paints mental pictures with lyrical prose. "The Light, The Dark & Ember Between" is a collection of 15 short stories whose concurrent theme centers on finding hope in death. Nicklaus' writing is dense with meaning. It is not trivial, light reading. His sentences are filled with complexity in a style that encourages the reader to slow down and savor each word. Each page demands a reader's full attention in order to grasp the vivid emotional catharsis experienced by the characters. Death is a heavy subject, but the participants in each story offer a different look at it. They don't succumb to the darkness, but instead grasp for the light. They are able to persevere thanks, in part, to the deeper insight gained from their travails.
The standout pieces include:
"Emissary"-After losing his wife in a freak boating accident, a widower begins to experience supernatural occurrences. In coming to terms with the meaning behind these events, he is able for the first time to open up to his son and daughter-in-law about his pain and confusion. This release allows him not to fear these visitations, but welcome them. In trying to find some sense of peace, he embraces these communications from the beyond. They give him a glimmer of hope that she is still there with him in some form. The sensory details-from the coastal setting to the breakfast table-are right on the money transporting the reader directly into the story's setting.
"Requiem for Linny"-With the passing of a cowboy's wife, her death is felt by every man on the ranch. In the Colorado mountains, they prepare her grave beneath a snow-covered tree, a place she selected beforehand. Her husband tries to restrain his grief by hand carving a wooden cross for the site. When his brother calls, a long-held secret is revealed. While forgiveness is hard to come by, the presence of the deceased continues to be felt in a very powerful way. Nicklaus excels in describing gruff, stoic men succumb to their emotions and express what they are feeling.
"Winter Rose"-An American solider and British child are thrown together in the aftermath of a World War I bombing raid. The young private finds the injured child amidst the rubble and takes her to the army medic. A strong attachment quickly forms between the two. It is touching to witness the girl clinging to the soldier as he becomes her last lifeline to safety and comfort. She does not know if her parents are alive or dead. She is lost and alone, but for the young American at her side. The men at the base are far from home as they try to celebrate the Christmas holiday. The presence of the child adds meaning to their endeavor as they shower her with whatever trinkets they have at their disposal. Although her future is uncertain, for one night the Americans become her family.
Overall, a rich and varied collection that explores the place between life and death.
Posted July 28, 2009
This is a book of about 15 short stories written by J.W. Nicklaus. There is a little drama, humor, romance, and more in this book. I enjoyed reading it during a conference when the topics did not interest me as much as the book did! I found it hard to put the book down at times because the stories were so captivating. In my opinion, the most memorable stories in the book are the following with a short review:
Requiem for Linny: I enjoyed this story because it reminded me of my grandmother a little bit. There are some things that people hang on to and have a hard time letting go. Reflecting back on this today, the story means a little more as a young man I know died in a drowning accident over the weekend. He's the second in my church in 3 days to drown. Puts a different spin on a story like this.
10:18-All I can say about this one is "WOW". If this one doesn't change your life....well, it SHOULD change your life!!
One Washington Diner: This one I read in the doctor's office this morning and needless to say, the tears in my eyes caused my doctor some concern when he finally came in my room. This was one of my favorites. It's a very sweet love story that had me reflecting back on my marriage and our relationship and how I might improve that.
Winter Rose: Another tear jerker...this is a MUST read. If you only read one story in this book, make it this one. In light of present world events it puts some things in perspective.
In the Name of Love: This is the only non-fiction story in this book. It's very personal and will strike a chord with anyone with a heart.
While these were my favorites, I don't want to take away anything from the other stories. They were all enjoyable and I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some inspiration, a "feel good" story, or who is just looking for a quick read while at a conference, the doctor's office, or where ever else the world might take you.
Posted July 20, 2009
There are certain books that epitomize a stage of the human condition and become "the" gift book for certain occasions. Graduating? Oh, the places you'll go! Pregnant? What to expect when you're expecting! Coping, or trying to cope, with a loss? "The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between!"
The vignettes of life that often pass as an ordinary moment will resonate with those struggling with life, with death, and everything between. "The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between" will be your emissary, your "bridge between loss and love."
Full review at: http://reminderlist.blogspot.com/2009/07/light-dark-ember-between.html
Posted July 16, 2009
Back of Book
This book is a collection of uplifting images that delve into the reflections of the human condition. These stories will cause you to think, laugh, and even cry at the beauty of emotional memories. You will smile at the thought of love lost and found again in "Paper Doll." You will think about your life's choices in "10:18." You will cry tears of joy while reading about the hidden gift in "Winter Rose." This is a must-have collection of thought-provoking reflections perfect for your bedside or the beach.
The Light, The Dark, & Ember Between is beautifully written, and is an uplifting, thoughtful, intelligent, and heartfelt collection of short stories. Fifteen stories in all, each is so very different and from different points of view. All of the stories bring the message of hope to the reader. This is a book that lives up to what it promise s- the message of hope as the "Ember Between."
I have to say that this book came to me at just the right time. I needed to read it because it reminded me that hope doesn't just happen. We have to keep our eyes open and watch for it. This is a lovely book that I recommend for personal reading or as a wonderful gift.