The Devil and Preston Black.
As a writer, I try to learn a writing lesson from every book I read. With Jason Jack Miller’s The Devil and Preston Black (Devil) I learned a little about fighting writer’s block. I mention writer's block because it seems that when I tell people that I have writer’s block, they say just write something. Anything. Just write what you’re trying to say.
But as much as writing is about saying something--it is also deciding what not to say. And that is what is most remarkable about Devil. Miller has an adept understanding of the nuance of language so readers can extrapolate a much more complex story than the one told on the surface. He engages the reader, so that, in some strange way, the story channels a shared experience with the author.
When reading this book, do not ask what could possibly be said about the devil that hasn’t already been said a thousand times?--although I could argue that the answer from Miller is quite a bit--but rather what’s been “unsaid” about the devil and the nature of evil. Jason Jack Miller is a virtuoso and his writing style gives him an uncanny ability to employ understatement. For every one thing that Miller chooses to say, he creates a complexity in his characters, settings, and plot--every element--that would be lacking if they were overstated.
Despite understatement, Miller’s images are rich his characters round; his understatement creates a reality and a believability. Perhaps what makes this most striking is that Devil has a pinch of magic to the story that even the most stubborn I-can’t-suspend-my-disbelief readers will find to be believable elements in a realistic reality.
In addition, Miller is a skilled writer who impeccably breaks from his understated cadence and gives readers a tiny dose of overstatement, the result of which adds tension, creates mystery, and keeps the reader turning pages. And for this reader this is what makes Devil a truly remarkable book worth reading.