SOME FAR AND DISTANT PLACE by Jonathan S. Addleton


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 Ultimately an appreciation--not without critical reflection-- of a formatively marginalizing childhood in Pakistan, by the son of Georgia-born Baptist missionaries. Addleton, a Foreign Service officer, believes that his defining attitude of ``awe mixed with ambiguity'' informs his ``ability to be partly at home everywhere--but not fully at home anywhere.'' In Upper Sind, site of his parents' ministry when he was a child, a sense of the eternal prevailed. But only at the Murree Christian School, 700 miles away in the mountains, could Addleton feel part of a collective--of missionary kids who created their own ``micro-universe''--rather than like a displaced alien, at home in none of the cultures he straddled--not in Muslim/Hindu society, nor among the Sindhi Christians (street sweepers all, who lived in the busti, or ghetto, with disease and despair). Nor in ``what should have been our home,'' the US, visited on fund-raising furloughs fraught with culture shocks--like the sanitization of death at Forest Lawn (``some sort of first-class waiting room''), which confirmed Addleton's perception that the fragility of life largely eluded the American consciousness. Death, whether from pestilence, accident, or war, was very much at the forefront of existence in Pakistan. For Addleton, it was a source of recurring terrors and a subject of extended contemplation; his psychological resilience today derives from both a philosophical bent for reconciling incongruities and from ``the reality of the Living God revealed in Jesus Christ''--his constant since the day in second grade that the Word manifested itself to him. A slow, earnest, sometimes elegiac reminiscence weighted by a privileged, proprietary perspective on Pakistan, and inflected with unconditional numinousness. Most valuable, however, as the testimony of a missionary kid, a member of ``one of the tiniest and most lonely minorities on earth.'' (Regional author tour)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8203-1858-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997