The Pains: A Book For Our Times

My teenage daughter knows a bit about life and art and intellectual pursuits. But only a bit. She rated John’s “Acts of the Apostles” as “not bad”, which is to say she liked it a lot. It’s a good read, and she can relate to its view of uncool dudes in the world. But having grown up living the technology instead of studying it, she takes too much for granted to appreciate the detailed references or the jokes.

I’m not yet recommending John’s latest book to her. She does not yet have the intellectual background for “The Pains.” Thank God.

Everyone over 20 should read it. It is an easy, funny and entertaining novella to read, with terrific pictures, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it has a challenging subject that forms a litmus test of whether you’ve been out in the world and paying attention and asking questions: What is the scope of science, religion, and politics?

“The Pains” is no wishy-washy thematic rambling — it has an opinion. (My favorite line is when the heroine meets the obviously dying hero for the first time in an ’80’s dance bar and declares, “I hate the fucking Eagles.”) I had first thought that opinion was centered on the general theme of “neo-con totalitarianism is bad, starting with Reagan.” As such, maybe the story was a bookend capturing a dead era?.

But the deeper theme of personal vs messianic science, religion, and politics are certainly not resolved this January, 2009. Indeed, a soul’s freedom requires perpetual awareness, and I think I hope that it always will.

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  1. John says:


    Why think yew, think you ferry much.

    Can I get you to say a few nice words on Amazon? Of course, I make more money on sales through wetmachine than through Amazon, but Amazon cannot be ignored.

    There are two reviews up there now, including a very funny (and positive) review by Mike Barlow.

  2. Read it twice. Missed the hundreds of geeky allusions of “Acts”, or the weirdness of “CCD”. But: it’s the “deepest” of the three.
    I have 4 copies, 3 of them intended as presents for those who deserve and can take it. Don’t know yet how will that be, and when. “The Pains” is really special. Giving it to someone feels like a confession.

  3. John says:

    Hey Christian,

    What a nice thing to say! Thanks!

    When you get a second, could you say something nice on Amazon? Or elsewhere? This little book (and its author) need(s) all the help it(they) can get.

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