My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Papa’s Gift (2014) by George A. McLendon offers a rare opportunity to not only see into the heart of a family living on the west coast but the book also offers sage advice on the nature of life and one’s presence in an ever changing universe.
“Too much of our life is like a woman trying to put on her makeup with her back to the mirror,” writes McLendon. “She can’t see the image she’s becoming and yet there it is, if only she would turn and see it.
“If we should face the mirror but keep our eyes closed to the reflection, well, that’s when by faith we believe there’s a reflection, but we’ve been taught we’re not capable or worthy enough to use it on our own. See the reflection from our higher consciousness is there, always there, but it remains up to us to open ourselves and accept it—to receive it” (p 24).
Papa’s Gift, a book within a book much like Madeleine Thien’s book Do Not Say We Have Nothing, allows the reader to face just such a mirror and look into a life full of events that provide a learning experience which teaches one to see deeper into the meanings of existence.
“The first basic truth is that Soul, the real you,” explains McLendon, “is eternally happy. Soul is joyous in the knowledge that its Creator loves it. Your prime duty here on earth is to reflect that love in your present life. Soul lacks nothing. Soul is complete. When your vibrations are in harmony with Spirit, love and well-being are magnetically drawn to act through you. You become a conduit for expansion… You must intentionally become what you desire” (pgs 32-33).
Any reader from any culture will find a chance to grow while reading this book because it opens doorways and windows into a fuller and more complete sense at looking at the world and at understanding yourself in a world and universe that are far older and far wiser. One simply has to be open enough to receive the truths that create Papa’s Gift as a unique book in a time laid heavy by the physicality of space.
“One universal law or Spiritual law is the law of economy. That means the easiest way to accomplish something while staying centered and comfortable in your own being is to trust that your goals are aligned with the expansion of consciousness and in accordance with God’s love for you and your love for God…
“If there’s something that you want to happen, you start with your imagination. You should see it happening and feel it happening. More completely, you must be able to feel the way you should feel after the task or event has happened. You must feel as if the event has already occurred…
“But the truth is that one’s future is totally the results of the thoughts and attitudes of one’s past” (pgs 54-55, 67).
Imagination, composed by one’s thoughts, express far more power than most individuals might first want to believe. But like imagination, vision mixed with faith and hope interweave a person’s past into the future. All of this is done in effort and in order to bring one’s full potential to existence. But McLendon flies higher and soars above common thought to provide deeper glimpses into the state of the world around what is known and unknown.
“Keep in mind that it is individuals who must advance for the culture to advance, would it be easier or harder for a culture to advance, spiritually or even scientifically, if every misfortune is blamed on an outside source over which the individual has no control,” asks McLendon.
“What I want to introduce to your mind in this conversation is this,” McLendon explains. “That, which flows through all creation and IS the method of creation, is the positive, the negative, and the balanced state between the two, the neutral. It acts through the individual. It is when we are balanced, when we are able to remain in that neutral state, for whatever short time possible, that we are in harmony with our greater existence. That is our Spiritual Power.
“When we are in harmony, we are happy. We are harmonically bringing the joy of Soul into this world. In this state we are joyous because, as Soul, we know who we are and we know our relationship with the Creator who loves us because we are a part of the Creator. It’s when we are in this state that the magnetic universe responds to our dreams and our wishes in short order—actually instantly” (pgs 79-80).
McLendon is further able to balance the advice found periodically in a beautifully heartbreaking tale of a grandfather (Papa) teaching his granddaughter (Ellie) about the nature of existence and Soul by weaving in fluid descriptions that can only be done by an expert localist, who provides a layer of Nature to the metaphysical.
“Whiskey Spit lies on the western shore of the Hood Canal,” writes McLendon, “near the floating bridge connecting the western portion of the Olympic Peninsula to Kitsap County and the ferry routes to the Seattle area. It contains a gently sloping shore which at low tide reveals a vibrant mud flat rich in happy clams…
“We then drove the few miles around to the south of Ludlow Bay and turned along the west shore of Hood Canal on Paradise Bay road. We took the Seven Sisters turnoff leading down to the water’s edge. Once found and safely parked at a reasonable height above the muddy tidal shore, we unpacked our gear and began our quest for food…
“I had confirmed a guest slip at the John Wayne Marina in Sequim Bay. Ellie’s tenth day with us proved the perfect day for a family cruise up Puget Sound, around Point Hudson onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the beautiful little bay on the east edge of the town of Sequim…
“The John Wayne Marina extends outward from the western shore of Sequim Bay from off a small prominence of land. Its breakwater, constructed of rock, extends out into the bay creating a small anchorage just outside the breakwater on the south side. A meandering stream of fresh water, the origin of which is a bubbling spring somewhere back toward the Olympic Mountains, also feeds into the anchorage. At the point where the fresh spring water empties into the salt-water bay, waterfowl of all description gather to bathe. They gossip, preen, and shake away anything foreign that fouled their feathers during their adventures in the salty waters of the Sound and Strait” (pgs 85-86, 153, 177).
But Papa, the grandfather, has more advice to give to his granddaughter Ellie, who is visiting from Texas and who is just starting out on her path in life and the universe.
“If we should fall into a pattern of just accepting what someone else or some group thinks, we lose our own uniqueness and become just a follower,” explains Papa to Ellie. “We should always boldly question conventional wisdom. That wisdom is likely to be to someone else’s advantage and not our own. It’s ultimately our own individual choice…
“Allow the universe to work with you, instead of following a lesser path. There are lots of different paths in front of you at all times. Some just may be proposed by people who would gladly use you for their not so honorable purposes. The universal principles were at hand. They were with me to change the old projected path…
“Each individual has his or her own path to follow. It might even be more correct to say each individual’s own path to make. Every new discovery is to the advancement of the consciousness of Soul, both individually and as a family. Many paths are similar” (pgs 100, 109, 140).
Papa and Nana also like to tell Ellie stories from their travels around the world and these reflections help the reader visualize examples of how abstract concepts like the universe, faith, hope, persistence, belief and imagination exist in the physical world.
“Papa and I,” Nana tells Ellie, “continued on after a short distance, which the ladies must have missed by only a few steps, a door came into view from out of the mist. It was a huge wooden door with big iron hinges and a large ancient looking door handle. I felt like we were in some kind of fairy tale. There in the silent mist, Papa took hold of the handle and pushed. We were immediately transformed to a different world. Brightly lit with accordions playing, people—lots of people—singing and laughing, food and drink being served, activity, total activity. Papa closed the huge door—silence once again, silent mist, white tunnel. Papa again opened the door to the New World and we entered…
“That room was there all along, but the ladies lost faith, lost hope and turned from something almost within their grasp that I’m sure they would have enjoyed. The light at the end of that tunnel had been there, waiting for them all along. That’s why knowing is so much more fulfilling than hope or faith. That Mt. Rigi adventure, to us, is what is called a waking dream. That’s a sequence of events that relays a Spiritual message. In that episode we were reminded to work beyond hope and faith, to know. Knowing is the essence of the path Papa and I are on and that’s what we’ve wanted to share with you” (p 224).
Author George A. McLendon
In many ways, Papa’s Gift and McLendon remind the reader of Paulo Coelho by offering glimpses into the deeper, more magical and mysterious aspects of life, the world and the universe all around. How would the world be better and more different if more people saw and spoke in such ways as McLendon and Coelho?
“What would life on earth be like if we were all reminded from our earliest years of our eternal nature,” writes McLendon, “and that we are Spirit entering this beautiful world to be happy, to love, and to make this world even better for our being here. Instead, so many are taught our imagination is fantasy and false, far less important than our mind. When the secret is we must use them together” (p 225).
By all means, go ahead and read Papa’s Gift then share the book with another reader so the wisdom and joy may spread and help make the world a better place for us all.
And never forget:
Keep reading and smiling…
American Novelist CG FEWSTON
CG FEWSTON was born in Texas in 1979 and now lives in Hong Kong. He is the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son, The New America: A Collection, Vanity of Vanities, and A Time to Love in Tehran.
Over the years, CG FEWSTON has had the pleasure of listening to and meeting best-selling novelists and poets such as Walt McDonald (Poet Laureate of Texas in 2001), Tim O’Brien (author of The Things They Carried), Richard Adams Carey, Craig Childs, Sy Montgomery, Robert J. Begiebing, Mark Sundeen, Chris Bohjalian, Matt Bondurant, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Jessica Anthony, Benjamin Nugent, Diane Les Becquets, Ann Garvin, Jo Knowles, Ravi Shankar, Richard Blanco, Wiley Cash, Justin Hill, Xu Xi, Madeleine Thien, Andre Dubus III, & Bob Shacochis.
CG FEWSTON is a member of Club Med, AWP, Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world. CG FEWSTON has emerged as a leader in literature with a seasoned voice of reason, fairness and truth while becoming your American novelist for the 21st century.
His novel, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under “Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience” and has been called a “cerebral, fast-paced thriller” by Kirkus Reviews, where it gained over 10,000 shares.
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN was also nominated for (& lost) the following 2016 book contests: the PEN/Faulkner Award, the John Gardner Fiction Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Hammett Prize, and the Pushcart Prize. Heartbreaking, lyrical and eloquent, this remarkable novel confirms CG FEWSTON’s place among America’s finest novelists.
CG FEWSTON has travelled the world visiting Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei & Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and in China: Guilin, Shenzhen, Sanya on Hainan Island, Zhuhai and Beijing. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned a B.A. in English & American Literature from HPU in Texas, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors) from JIU in Colorado, an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University in New York, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists like Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014). While at SNHU, CG FEWSTON also participated in writing workshops ran by Mark Sundeen, Ann Garvin, Jo Knowles, Diane Les Becquets, and Benjamin Nugent (all brave, enthusiastic and talented writers).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Polychrome Ink Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literary Review India (“The Girl on the River Kwai”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
FEWSTON “delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5
CG FEWSTON and AXTON