C.E. Morgan: All The Living 3 Comments

C.E. Morgan: All The Living

C.E. Morgan’s debut feels a lot like a Mountain Goats song in novel form. An obsession with religion, spirituality and death that feels barely contained. Prose that has a fantastic drive and rhythm to it, a terseness where everything feels on the edge of something else. The language falls on the gritty side of sepia, and so does the story itself. A young woman travels to live with bereaved young man, on a drought stricken, isolated farm in the American south. Both of them are suffering, everything around them is loss and death, but none of it descends into cliché or melodrama – the conflicts, the resolutions, they’re intense but nothing feels certain or concrete, just raw and bleeding.

The back cover has only two biographical facts about Morgan: lives in Kentucky, holds a Master’s in theology from Harvard. Religion and spirituality (not just exclusively Christian, I’d argue) run throughout this book, but it’s secondary to the people in it. Which is its greatest accomplishment.  This is the book you’d wish Richard Dawkins would read, with a genuinely open mind, and maybe check himself a little. I haven’t read much Dawkins, but then I haven’t read much of the bible either, so I think I am being fair and balanced when I say: he’s a twat. I’m sick of people who couldn’t begin to explain the big bang scientifically characterising every single religious person as borderline retarded for uncritically believing in God. There are many valid points to be made, but sweet Jesus, these are people. It seems awfully dangerous to lose sight of that.

Morgan’s central characters are mostly ambivalent about religion, but more than that, they’re fighting the world around them (which is where their spirituality comes from as well, surprise surprise) with all the doubts and anxieties that make life a bitch, religion or no. They never totally embrace the church world that surrounds them, but they don’t outright shun it either. They are living their life, trying desperately to deal with one another and with themselves, and maybe they are wrong about religion in a correct/false sense but All The Living wonderfully illustrates why they’re not wrong in a moral sense. These are not awful people by virtue of their beliefs, they are living life and trying their hardest to do okay at it.

  • Kat

    You had me at Mountain Goats song in novel form. It’s so refreshing to hear of a debut with a bit of grit and blood to it (that isn’t that romanticised vampire fetish everyone seems to have at the moment). And one that manages to deal with religion as an ethic instead of a bunch of losers paying lip service.

    If you have a copy JoJo I’m borrowing it in the very near future.

  • Luke

    “I’m sick of people who couldn’t begin to explain the big bang scientifically characterising every single religious person as borderline retarded for uncritically believing in God.”

    And I’m sick of people who “haven’t read much Dawkins” re-imagining him as an insensitive “twat” and pretending he is the proponent of opinions that he isn’t. I’m sick of the “I’m an atheist, but I’m not as bad as *him*” argument, whereby atheists themselves push Dawkins over into the column of extremist in order to make themselves feel more ‘moderate’. Dawkins is simply a famous, passionate, and informed atheist, and because of that, people automatically view him as the embodiment of the worst parts of atheism, making him the target of uninformed criticism that actually doesn’t apply to him at all. Now that’s the kind of thinking that I find dangerous.

    I’m sure you’ll find Dawkins can actually explain the big bang quite scientifically and quite eloquently, and he never forgot that “these are people”. If you’d had any contact with his work, you might know these things. You should’ve used a general term like “atheist extremists” or something. If you wanted the specificity, you should’ve done the research. It’s not that hard. If you can’t be bothered to read the book, go watch a YouTube video or something. This is the information age, afterall.

  • Pingback: Kunst Blog Buch » Blog Archiv » Neue Literatur aus Amerika: Meyer, Morgan, Galchen()

<body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000"> <a href="http://links.idc1998.com/?fp=ilRMddvxjuH18aIRfq667tmgGirCQL%2F61hWSEWbl9bk7lxEHrsRhevvJ0lR2KL1DWl25s2x09d5rQRQ07rtqtg%3D%3D&prvtof=V60H%2Fs35BkaMzdcV5Ju68gJ3sxi8JfOcfnV4984sS0A%3D&poru=fsz8V1wOeertXv4Hcr%2FMV83kRRloueQEsmSWlJ6j4Bsoa7Tm0uDFNJ0liuYkzHq00F03YlWtArZ56JBogU%2FrTg%3D%3D&type=link">Click here to proceed</a>. </body>