Monday, December 11, 2006

'Challenger Park' hits home

Just finished reading "Challenger Park" on the plane and I'm awestruck by it's human-ness. I was initially drawn to it because of it's setting and content ... the space program in Clear Lake, Texas, where I grew up.

But what was more awe inspiring, or terrifying even, was the human interactions that Stephen Harrigan brings to the story. In reading the book I already had an intimate knowledge of the setting (Clear Lake, not space), but there are so many other story lines that I could relate to. ... especially having a child with asthma -- though I fear that more with my wife than with my son.

I heard about the book during the Texas Book Fair and kept an eye out for it at airport bookstores and supermarkets for weeks before getting a copy from the library. I haven't experienced that kind of anticipation for a book in a long time ... probably since the last Harry Potter release.

I gobbled up stories and the interviews I could find with Harrigan talking about the book ... I was drawn to his explanation of the inspiration behind the book ... of being at a relative's soccer game in Clear Lake and someone leaning over and pointing out a mom at the side of the field, saying "she was in space last week."

How could I not be intrigued by that? It's a convergence of childhood with adulthood ... growing up in the shadow of the space program -- I could see Johnson Space Center from my back yard -- And now, as a parent and a husband, I can feel all the other emotions in the book, too.

Louis and Walt questioning faith ... well, I struggle with that almost daily. I've given my life to Christ, but that doesn't stop me asking, wondering, seeking ... I'm not immune from too many questions, too much humanness and selfishness.

What a wonderful and frightful collection of feelings all flying together at once. Maybe I am the perfect storm for this book, but I think Harrigan has weaved a wonderfully complex and for me personal web here. It's reached me like no other book has since William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition," though that one crept into my life more than nailed it.


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