A boon gave Jonathon Fry a year to write his novel but, as memories that are not his own flood his thoughts, Jonathon begins to question whether the words he has written are his own or whether he is a mere conduit for someone else. And, he is haunted by dreams of an exotically beautiful woman he has never met. His wife initially benefits from these late night dreams, until he honestly answers her questions about why he is suddenly more active in bed.
The Involuntary Ghostwriter poses a number of intriguing questions. Was God writing the words? Why had He decided to speak through Jonathon Fry? And, what messages was He conveying?
Events in the internet café raised questions in me as a reader and, like Jonathon Fry, I wondered what was going on. It is feasible that if God did live amongst us now, He would lead a life much like our own and would look like we do. As a child, growing up He would have had a familial set of cultural, religious and social restrictions passed on to him. Since God used the media of the time in the past, again, it is feasible that He might use social media today to send us His word. So, was Jonathon Fry, like his predecessors, an Involuntary Ghostwriter, telling God’s story and passing on His messages?
Jonathon Fry is likeable and immediately recognisable as a typically flawed and slightly disillusioned man nearing burn out and retirement; questioning the life he has led and the choices he has made. Jonathon’s confusion and conflict as he reads back what he has written are evident and touch on many real life questions about sex, guilt and religion. Despite his confusion about the life he is writing about that is, and at the same time is not, his own, Jonathon is compelled to keep writing.
While some parts are emotionally challenging, such as childhood bullying and a need to fit in, other parts provide a humorous and insightful look back at a typical childhood and early adult years of a boy growing up, and facing sexual awakening.
Douglas Debelak provides his fiction, loosely based on facts. This is a book about living and striving, that many people will relate to. An important recurring theme running throughout is sin and guilt. This is a book about human existence and experience and the anxiety caused by living. As Jonathon reaches retirement, is he experiencing some sort of personal crisis or, is God using him as a medium to pass on his words about what it is to live, to exist and what it means to be human in the world that He provided for us?