Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Own Life

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Not As Jazzy As Previous Work

Oct 16, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Some interesting stuff

Cons:Disappointing in every way

The Bottom Line: I'm shocked that such an interesting and good writer could have produced something like this.


Don Miller's follow up to his 2006 Christian spirituality book, To Own A Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without A Father, was just released late last month so I jumped at the chance to read it as one of his previous memoirs, Blue Like Jazz, really hit me with the points he made on his own life concerning his relationship to God.

The thesis of this A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life is that he's collaborating with a few guys from a production company on turning his Blue Like Jazz memoir into a feature-length film.

The book is real as the film is in development (filming in Portland, OR soon as this is Miller's stomping grounds) and Miller has a way of telling stories involving how uncomfortable he was at times with the whole process, how different movie making is from actual writing, and so on.

In this book he revisits some older material and for long-time fans of his work and his ongoing life he finally gets to meet his father and get closer in his life. This is the best part of the book as his father left him at an early age, which led way for him to find God to replace his father with. There are also some interesting bits about him going to a writing seminar and reexamining the act of writing and story as a whole. Sadly, this is where the novel goes wrong.

It started out really well, but around the thirtieth or fortieth page or so his enthusiasm for this book clearly drops. He even states twice in the book that he's not a real big fan of writing, but he HAS to do it in order to pay the bills and get his thoughts out. After the writing seminar stuff is introduced the book plays out as if Miller's ego went completely out of whack as he's giving tips on writing and things like that, which seemed like a far cry from his original topic.

It goes back and forth between the ongoing bits of him hanging out with the filmmakers and talking about the writing stuff and ultimately the not-as-dramatic-of-a-confrontation-as-you'd-think with his father.

Ultimately I was looking for a Christian spirituality book with this as Miller's known for his even-handed, non-judgmental metaphors of God and what God means to him and he did it almost flawlessly with the last book I read from him, Blue Like Jazz, but there is barely enough content relating to God in this book.

He sprinkles this content every now and then, but for the most part I just thought he was drilling home the notion that everybody has a story to tell in their lives and they have to just buckle down and lead a fun life as when we look back on it with Jesus do we want to be entertained or bored with it?

A Million Miles...
started out really good and hooked me in as Miller's unfamiliarity with movie-making and the whole new experience of this business was pretty interesting to read about, but then it lost its focus as if he ran out of things to write about so there was all of this filler that I could care less about.

There were stories that didn't really add much context aside from "make the most out of your life as people have it rougher than you" and the transitions into them are very poorly done from a writer's standpoint. There is also a lack of real interesting narrative as he didn't spruce up much of his writing as in earlier books. This just didn't feel like Miller had any heart at stake here and at the end of the day this hurt the book the most.

© Jason Haskins, 2009


More Donald Miller!

Blue Like Jazz


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