Book Review: Crazy of Natural Causes

“You know, I think the world has very few saints and very few sinners. Most of us fall somewhere in between.”

Crazy of Natural Causes is a book of the “in-between.”

natural causesChance Benford, the protagonist in Dutton’s tale, is a fascinating specimen, full of juicy juxtapositions that are all the more fascinating because they feel “real.” He preaches from the Bible but smokes pot and lives with a woman out of wedlock. He makes some pretty terrible decisions yet is so good to those around him, especially the boys who he coached. He lies a little, sins a lot, and yet is a man doing the best he can with what’s been given him.

Now this is a novel that is very different from the normal genres I read, yet I found it difficult to put down. Dutton is a fantastic author who’s unafraid to walk up to the line of what might offend people and then plummet right over it. And yet his prose has such a quiet elegance that this doesn’t feel like fiction but a story that could have actually occurred.

I especially love the title of the novel and how it plays into the plot of the story and Chance’s own condition. It’s an interesting concept, that our actions might not be as cut and dry as we think they are.

That, to me, is the overwhelming theme of this work — that we’re all living “in between” the life of a saint or sinner. We have our moments of glory and plenty of moments we’re not proud of, and yet we continue day to day because it’s what we’ve been led to do. A great read and one I’d recommend to those looking for something outside the normal genre-fare.


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