‘It was in the summer of the millennium year that I began to write from the heart. For almost twenty years, I had written of profit and capital…but until that fateful year, I had now known what it was to bow my head to the calling of life contract and karma…I watched, incapable of acting to prevent it. I had nowhere to go then, but into the printed word. From that August onward, I poured the substance of my energy onto the page’.
Amongst the various forms of creative writing to choose from, one form can be invariably tough, as it crosses into the potentially dangerous waters of ‘this is what I think’; used primarily in internet blogs, autobiographies and ‘self-help’ books. The upside of this can be that we gain personal insights into the internal ‘machinery’ of the author, however, the downside can be that the writer comes across as someone insisting/demanding that we listen to their words, accompanied by a sense of superiority and egotistical arrogance.
Luckily, for all readers of fine words, the author Michael Forester is a superbly gifted writer; employing a precise set of joyous communicative skills – in his 2017 book Forest Rain – Spiritual Learnings For A New Age – as he seeks to relay some complex and detailed ideas towards his readers.
For Michael, this is a departure from his fictional work, such as Dragonsong & The Goblin Child and Other Stories (both released in 2016) but he traverses any potential ‘minefields’ attached to this writing genre with ease, relaying personal thoughts and philosophical foundations without any edge of pushiness or demand. As such, the reader never feels pressured into any form of ‘conversion’ and is kept at a safe, observational distance.
Michael’s writing style is simplistically beautiful – a combination of life writing chapters, separated by heartfelt poems that add texture and depth to his prose. Often emotionally charged and highly personal, again it is Michael’s polished skill as a writer that allows us into his world for a ‘peek’, yet never do we feel as if we are nosing. For example, from a chapter entitled ‘Lessons From The Death of a Marriage’:
‘We did not see it at first. It came as to a tree in canker. The discolouration of our love took time to become visible, for the branches to lose their sap and harden…those around us, then and now, tell us that our union wore that autumnal look for years…we, ourselves, were the last to see it, for neither of us would acknowledge the impending death of love. So tightly had the cords been wound, that to cease to love, to cease to be together, was inconceivable to either of us.’
Forest Rain is riddled with excellent writing, beautifully communicated and luxuriously gift-wrapped for our senses. Again, as with the above quotation, it would be easy to overburden, or inflict the reader with a sense of personal intrusion, but Michael keeps us just at arm’s-length throughout the 148 pages of this book, as he relays a combination of monologues pertaining to his life events & thoughts, alongside a varied example of exquisite and pertinent poetry; some longer pieces and others only a few lines in totality, such as ‘Flying Fish’:
And we are but flying fish
breaking the surface for a moment
to bask in the reflected glory
of a transient elevation.
In many ways, this resembles an autobiography, yet the reader is taken on a far deeper journey, as if the author is inviting us deeper into his own personal world, opening up doors that few writers would dare to reveal to their literary audience. Again, the key is balance…too much insight and we may feel that we are intruding into Michael’s personal world. Too little insight and we may feel that the project has been both pointless and unnecessary. Because the nature of the topics covered by Michael hold such fascinating human interest, we remain keen to hear his voice.
Of course, it is also vitally important with this genre that we like Michael; else we are covering 148 pages of words without remotely caring about the source. If he gets on a ‘soap box’, do we hang in there? If he comes over as selfish and overbearing, where’s the motivation not to put the book down and turn the television on? Thankfully, Michael comes across as a lovely, warm, genuine man and not just because of his chosen words that he places down upon paper. This is not a sales job…we are not being asked to buy into anything, merely to listen and attempt to understand his personal journey through life and the lessons he has learned from his journey, both positive and negative, so that we may gain understanding and growth.
As such, we start page one as a stranger and become a trusted friend long before the final line is done. This is not a book saying ‘Listen to me!’…it’s two people chatting about life in front of a pub log fire, safe and secure in the knowledge that we are in the finest company and all is well with the world…able to broach any subject, such as dealing with oncoming deafness, how angry humans can be, the mysteries of love, and even the impending death of a father suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.
‘I know that soon you will go gently. It has never been your way to rage and you will not rage now at the dying of the light…then, when the rituals are done, when they have fussed over your shell to their hearts’ content, when they have cried their tears…then it is you and I that shall rise from the table and take our leave. We shall walk within the forest. For we never did. We shall stand in the storms together. For we never did…We shall each hold the heart of the other. For we never did. We shall, each of us, see the soul of the other. For we never did. And once, just once, we shall each of us say unto the other, ‘I love you’. For we never did.’
This book is an absolute gem and I feel honoured to have read it. I sincerely wish that I’d written it.