Thursday, January 31, 2019
Book Review: 'Descent: The Forty Days After the Crucifixion of Jesus' by D.S. Lliteras
‘There’s no genius. There’s only God.’
Alabama author D.S. Lliteras has looked at the 20th century and found it wanting. Or rather, the audience for excellent literature has yet to recognize his importance so perhaps it is we, the wanters, who are still lost, searching for a voice to define the last fifty or so years. His credentials are impressive: he has written twelve books since 1992, his first novels were biblical in nature and while they gained accolades from the press it was only when he decided to enter and relate that part of his psyche that was most vulnerable that his books burst into significance. Lliteras joined the US Navy after high school and became a corpsman assigned to the USMC First Reconnaissance Battalion First Marine Division near DaNang, winning a Bronze Star for valor. He was trained as a diver and further endured the Vietnam War in that role. Following his discharge from the USN he gained his BA and MA in Fine Arts from Florida State University and worked as a theatrical director until 1979, resigning to become a merchant sailor. In 1981 he aligned with the USN as a deep sea diving and salvage officer, following which he resigned his naval commission and became a professional firefighter.
One of the many aspects of Lliteras’ writing is the style in which he places words on a page. His dialogue among his characters is set in the usual novel format but each very short chapter stuns, and opens the window for the next. Moving away from his novels about war and Vietnam in particular (and if you have not read them, do!), he take us into the realm of spiritual aspects of Christianity in a manner that places us wholly in the framework of the significance of the concept of the crucifixion and resurrection and ascension and descent of the Holy Spirit in a manner that is revelatory to all people.
Even the synopsis of this enlightenment is well condensed, making the reader prepared for the journey ahead – Descent is about Jesus’ resurrection and ascension that preceded the descent of the spirit—an event that purportedly made saints of ordinary men and women. This is the historical and spiritual landscape upon which two outsiders intruded: Flaccus, a Roman legionnaire and deserter, and Jeshua, a Judean healer and rogue. Both men are wanted by the Roman Empire and both men attempt to hide within a community of disciples. While they evade Rome’s authority, each man responds to this new and evolving faith in a dramatically different way.’
This is yet another work by D.S. Lliteras that provokes a stringent ‘YES!’ from the reader. He sees the world as few are able and shares the meaning of feeling with us. Quite simply, this is a brilliant little novel – especially for those who struggle with the concepts of sainthood and how it happens.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.