Having discovered that there aren’t a great deal of Buddhist fiction reviews around, I decided it was time to help rectify that problem, so expect more Buddhist fiction reviews from now on.
Today we have The Story of Mu by James Cordova.
This is a most unusual book in that it is both simple and profound, so much so that it would be easy to miss the profound aspect. The introduction gives ones clues, but to get the most out of it as an adult one needs to contemplate the words. The name of the central character is Mu, a sound that is open and comforting, and to suggests wisdom and compassion the essence of our true nature.
To a child this is a simple story of a ‘soul’s’ rebirth and learning; to an adult it is an opportunity to meditate as you read to your child. I read it on a Kindle and so missed whatever colour was in the illustrations, but even in a grey scale I could see that they had the kind of atmosphere that such a book required. They balanced the real, in pictures of a human Mu and her/his dog, and the esoteric, in the landscapes and less tangible scenes. So I recommend purchasing this in paper form.
It’s the kind of book that you can revisit many times and read on different levels. A good one for before bed to settle your mind before sleep. But if you want great excitement from a book, then this is not a book for you. This is a book for those who like Koans.
In one section, I wondered if a mistake had been made when the same person was referred to as male in one sentence, then female shortly after. Even if it was supposed to be this way—it could be explained as indicating the lack of sexual orientation in our true nature—I would have preferred not to have had this jolt from the story, and children would certainly find it confusing. Had there been a new incarnation between the male and female pronoun uses, it would have been fine, but there wasn’t. If the meaning is as I said above, then, as an editor, I would suggest making it clearer, unless, of course, it is purposely confusing in order to stimulate contemplation. I don’t think, however, that the contemplation on whether or not it is a mistake is the sort of contemplation the book is designed for – or maybe it is!
Despite this little glitch in my enjoyment, I highly recommended this book for those with a Buddhist background who would like an illustrated story on which to contemplate and/or have children to whom they wish to read. But even without such a background, the book can be enjoyed by anyone who simply enjoys illustrated stories with an elegant simplicity.
Publication date: Apr 26 2016