We’ve all perhaps heard of Mary Shelley’s dark tale of the genius scientist Victor Frankenstein, who’s curiosity and intellect drive him to create a living monster (yes, yes Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the monster). Anyways, as the story goes, the beast haunts Victor everywhere he goes, wreaking havoc on his entire life and eventually leading to his very sad death. Frankenstein has now been told and retold for nearly 200 years, and for good reason. It is a magnificent and horrifying exploration of human nature, the limits of science and our relationship to nature. No matter how you slice it, it is rich with meaning and significance. And yet as I read it last year there was one thread in particular that jumped out at me.
What IS this life? How do we explain its flow and tumble through time? More importantly, how do we grab hold of it, ride it to the fullest, savor the thrill? These are the question that N. D. Wilson seeks to address in his book, Death By Living. Ever since reading it last December, the words and ideas have been rolling around in my head, and I have been aching to pin down some critical impressions and share them with you, hopefully convincing you to give this book a read.
As I said, Death By Living seeks to grab hold of the reality of what life is and how it is to be lived out to the fullest. The answer that N. D. Wilson posses is that life is a story; a grand, deeply real and gripping narrative that is at work all around us at all times. The book has a more or less linear flow to it – starting from meditations and reflections of the past, moving into the present and then looking forward at the future. It drops into the various places and experiences of all stages of life and tries to capture the sense and nature of the story that we are all part of.