Journey Before Destination
A review of
Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging
Paperback: U of Iowa Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Sam Edgin
It may be the case that the highest praise a book can earn within the confines of a sentence is this: “I read it in one sitting.” Six words, seven syllables, and wrapped within them the praise equivalent to mountains of gold. A book that was read in a single sitting, a book that breathed deep and swelled its breast to engulf a person until it was done with them, is special kind of book. Most people know the pull of such a thing, and they chase after it.
So when I say that I read Joshua Doležal’s Down from the Mountaintop in its entirety on a sunny Monday morning, I mean it as high praise. Doležal weaves his words with sincerity, managing to convey genuine emotion in his reflections. He has an uncanny knack for detail, and constantly leaves simple beauty shimmering behind our eyes. Images like him and his father playing catch in their uneven and violently sloped front yard, his mother reading to him and his sister on a blanket beneath a tree and the swing of his mattock as he works trails in the mountains in summer heat stick with the reader. His prose is masterful, and turns the story of his relatively ordinary life into a beautiful adventure.