You might remember Windblown Media as the small publisher who hit gold when they collaborated to produce the little novel that made it big: The Shack by William Paul Young. Brad Cummings, President (and Publisher), and Wayne Jacobsen, Publisher, head up Windblown Media now under the umbrella of Hachette Book Group. If you’d like to read more about them, visit their website or go here: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/publishing_windblown-media.aspx.
Bo’s Café by John Lynch, Bill Thrall, and Bruce McNicol is the first novel to follow Windblown Media’s production of The Shack. And as their self-defined purpose declares, this book, like The Shack, is written with the “spiritually hungry” in mind. And similar to its predecessor, the story is pretty much one long conversation with an agenda—-not long in the sense of word count in that my guess is this story tops out at 70,000 words max but probably closer to 60,000.
Steve Kerner works, lives, and occupies the fast lane in life. His job is cutthroat, and he’s near to the top in his thirty-something years—-the proverbial “has it all” kind of guy who fights with his wife, forgets to pick up his daughter at school, and either hates or fears his coworkers. When he stops off at a greasy bar in an area where he grew up, a stranger starts a conversation with him as he sulks at the bar. Not wanting to be bothered by the man he perceives as an aging hippie, he’s finally drawn into a conversation he doesn’t want to have when he learns the man was a friend of his father. When the man spouts off too much information about Steven’s failing personal life, Steven takes a ride with the man known as Andy in his mint condition 1970 Buick Electra convertible.
When an argument with his wife gets out of control, Steven is banished to the Marriott Hotel. As he reluctantly continues to discuss his life with his strange new acquaintance, Andy takes him to Bo’s Café where Steven is introduced to people who get in his face without threatening him. The colorful café consists of a melting pot of characters who’ve been in the spiritual and emotional state Steven is just now facing and come out victoriously on the other side. They’re unafraid to tell him their stories in spite of his guarded façade and unwillingness to get real with them.
Andy demonstrates his love for the younger man by waiting until Steven contacts him. His ability to dissect Steven’s misguided perceptions and refusals to address his deepest fears and problems conjure up the symbolism of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives as we stumble around in our inept sinful ways finding excuses and blaming others for our faults and failures.
In keeping with their self-proclaimed agenda, Windblown Media presents another novel about a journey back to God from an estranged wayfarer. This long discussion takes place over a period of months when the two men and the peripheral friends meet at Bo’s Café to eat both “Mr. Bo’s” delicious meals and to consume the spiritual food for starving souls.
From the technical standpoint, and not to denigrate Paul Young in any way because his success is inarguable, this little novel is written more skillfully. It breaks the rules, as did The Shack, with its agenda-driven conversation being the sole reason for the story’s existence. To its credit the conversation is good, the asides real, and its concepts are far less controversial than those of the other little book.
Who are the readers for this short novel? Well . . . if you know someone with anger issues and a reluctance to admit any fault with himself, this is a good starting point. If you know someone who’s spaced himself away from God and who perceives Him in a bash-you-over-the-head kind of way, this novel is all about forgiveness and grace.
Mick Silva, editor at Waterbrook Press and who is given credit in the Acknowledgements, claims the “spiritually interested” audience is largely untapped, demonstrated by the huge success of The Shack. Mick’s hopeful formula: “Man and God and Jesus and world all together in one book? That's a middle ground. Nothing removed for the extremists and separatists in either camp.” Bo’s Café fits in this group.
Father, please bless these men who desire to honor you with their writing. Keep them honest, keep them real, keep them serving you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.