a little light

March 26th, 2012

Reading my friend Dan Barden’s  new book wasn’t altogether pleasant. It was a lot like trying to get around the borderless sprawl of Los Angeles. A contradiction, to say the least. Here you are, cruising under the blinding sunshine of an earthly paradise, and over there is a body under a blanket. Watch out for that sofa thrown onto the street. There’s a mattress in the middle of the freeway. The high-speed lane is stalled, and the off ramp is closed. Beautiful people drive by plumped up on collagen and hair extensions, and under the overpass is an invisible underclass. We must be in the wrong neighborhood. Let’s not get out of the car. I love it.

In the soft hills behind the beaches, everyone is hurting, and hurting each other, and trying to keep from hurting.

Barden wrote about that, in the form of a noir thriller, set in a place I know — Orange County — with people like us, people who have totally messed up and now are trying to do The Next Right Thing. You might think it’s strange for me to read a mystery, at least one with a lot of flying fists and f-words, but it’s no stranger than my real life. I love it.

 The Next Right Thing gives us a most unlikable kind of love. It ranges through the blight of addiction, anger, graft, betrayal and decomposing bodies in the basement, all to prove that the ugly underside is the incubator of goodness.

It’s thrilling, for real, and deeply wise, and I’m giving away a brand new copy. Leave a comment by this Friday to enter my giveaway. I’d love it.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to a retreat • Facebook me • Follow me.


  1. You’ve infected me with interest in a ‘mystery’ for the first time in my life – EVER.

    Beautiful writing on your part.

    Thanks so much for all that you do…

    celeste in morro bay, ca

    Comment by celeste — March 26, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  2. I’m a new reader to your blog. Came here because of a mention on BHJ. I love it. If I win the book, chances are, I’d love it, too. But either way, thanks for the lovely inspiration you provide.


    Comment by Clare — March 26, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  3. Intriguing! I haven’t read a mystery/thriller in lots and lots of years. But you’ve got me wanting to read this one. I live in Orange County and often feel lost here in this land of sunshine and “suburban bliss”.

    Comment by Kimberley — March 26, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  4. Karen, I don’t need a copy, because I already own one. I just wanted to echo what you said about how it seems like a book us peace seeking moms wouldn’t enjoy, but it was really touching to see broken people form a truly caring family in this novel. It reminds me that when you make a mistake, you have to just get up and try to do better. It’s almost like the novelist has had some influence from a zen priest or something 🙂

    Comment by Maggie — March 27, 2012 @ 3:47 am

  5. As a native Angeleno, I read as many L.A. based novels as I can. This one sounds incredible!

    Comment by Mimi — March 27, 2012 @ 4:18 am

  6. Sounds like the best mix of everything…such is life!

    Comment by Brenda Ferguson — March 27, 2012 @ 4:38 am

  7. I enjoy a really good mystery!

    Comment by Kathryn — March 27, 2012 @ 5:50 am

  8. I like books about people – the plot is not altogether important as long as there are interesting, well-developed characters. That is why I usually do NOT like mysteries. However this book sounds like it might have plot AND good characters. And I generally prefer my books seasoned with a few f-words. You know, like my real life,

    Comment by Kerry — March 27, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  9. Thanks for the recommendation, Karen! When reading novels, newspapers and magazines about “real-world” issues, I’m always considering how to apply mindfulness and spiritual concepts.

    Comment by Bob Gregoire — March 27, 2012 @ 7:09 am

  10. Please enter me in drawing. If my name is selected-I get to read the book. If my name is not selected-I’ll be content to re-read your description. Thank you!

    Comment by Laura Hodge — March 27, 2012 @ 7:31 am

  11. I’ve never read mystery before, but it sounds fascinating

    Comment by Aparna — March 27, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  12. This sounds really good!

    Comment by Mama Zen — March 28, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  13. Sounds lovely! Thank you for the offer. Been looking for suggestions.

    Comment by Nichole — March 28, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  14. Love to read about California. Thanks for the chance.

    Comment by Nancy — March 28, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  15. This book sounds intriguing – I’d love to win it and find out for myself!

    Comment by Jill C. — March 28, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  16. Sounds like nothing I would ever usually read but I would love to given my second home is now in Orange County! Thanks for your offer. Karen

    Comment by Karen — March 28, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  17. I’m always open to a good book to read!

    Comment by Valerie — March 30, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  18. I’m probably too late (“this” Friday does leave a smidge of space for interpretation, yes?). This book reminds me of an old love affair I had back in middle school: Agatha Christie books. And then in college, I read Patricia Cornwell just to remember how it felt to enjoy reading that wasn’t like eating broccoli. This book seems more nourishing, but still as appealing as a milk shake mystery.

    Comment by char — April 2, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month