More and more frequently pieces of literary shit are passing as precious metals. Consumers eat up the most horrible writers, Stephanie Meyers to name just one. But The Shack may take the Golden Strawberry award for me. I bought this book earlier this year thinking it would be a good meditation on life and death, since I’d heard so much about it. I thought the plot sounded fresh and intriguing: a man’s little girl is kidnapped, murdered, and God invites him back to the shack it all happens in. I knew something was wrong when the characters started calling God “Papa”, a gross misnomer. The book got worse from there. And I mean much worse.
William P. Young, Papa bless his heart, is the worst writer of all humanity. Worse than a caveman. Young really wanted to pontificate his primary school take on every single difficult question humanity has ever faced in 200 pages of the worst plot development of all time, and he did so in his book. He’s the one laughing, since I last saw a fresh new pallet of his book at Sam’s Club earlier this month, but how anyone reads this book after the first fifty pages is beyond me. Well, I take that back, because I did, but maybe everyone is like me, and when they heard about its crazy success, they read the book and kept hoping something eventually would redeem it, and then they ended up throwing it off the back porch.
Not only is Young’s take on death, murder, etc. the most elementary, simpleton and insulting expression of God ever (besides extremist Islam), he has the writing ability of maybe a high school cheerleader. You get the analogy. For instance, “Papa” eventually reveals himself as a large black woman from the south who starts out chapters saying things like “sho is” and “Mmmm Hmmmm!” Who can make God into a flat literary character? Then Young’s own typecasting doesn’t even hold up, because when he starts to get preachy, all of his characters lose their insulting stereotypes and just start preaching in white-speak to the reader. For example, at one chapter, you get to see Mack, the protagonist, sitting at the breakfast table with Papa the black woman God, Jesus the lumberjack, and an asian gardener who is the Holy Ghost. That sentence is funny enough, but as Mack starts asking all of these questions, all of the characters just turn into your average Sunday School Teacher trying to explain the heavy questions to a seven year old. Except the Sunday school teacher can do it better.
The ending of the book was even more insulting. After losing his little daughter, Mack comes down from the Shack after his week hiatus with the Godhead, and is [spoiler alert] struck by a car by someone who ran a stoplight. He’s in a coma for four days which conveniently explains his godly “vision”, but then he leads his family to where his daughter is buried, because “Papa” told him where she was??? Please. Young obviously wants everything in the world to work out just perfectly, and I think he believes it. But anyone who gives credence to his explanation for religious dilemmas that have plagued theologians and philosophers for centuries needs to seriously, seriously, seriously reconsider.
Please do not read this book. Please tell your friends to not read this book. Please do not support literary trash like this, or else we will continue to be infested with it.