Brief Reviews, Midweek Edition, VOLUME 2

[Midweek Edition] Brief Review: BETWEEN WYOMINGS by Ken Mansfield.

A Brief Review of
Between Wyomings: My God and an iPod on the Open Road
.
By Ken Mansfield.
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Buy now: [ CBD ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Ken Mansfield’s new book Between Wyomings: My God and an iPod on the Open Road, is a memoir tracing the winding journey of his star-studded life in the music business.  To emphasize this theme of journey – or perhaps more specifically as road-trip – the book’s table of contents is even presented in the form of a map!   Between Wyomings is a string of vignettes from Mansfield’s life that have been creatively arranged along the path of an imagined road trip.  We encounter many of Mansfield’s famous collaborators along the way: The Beatles, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, etc.

Unlike the great American road stories (think Kerouac’s On the Road or Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley) in whose footsteps Mansfield’s memoir would seem to follow, there is little probing here of the depths of human experience.  Instead, Mansfield’s journey is powered by an overwhelming sense of sentimentality.  Without any significant reflection on their meaning, Mansfield relies throughout on the stereotypically American icons of the road-trip and the American West.  Mansfield’s faith, it seems, is of the sentimentally-driven American evangelical variety.  Mansfield’s life undoubtedly was filled with colorful characters, and he almost certainly has some intriguing stories to tell, one simply wishes that his narration of his life of engagement with American pop culture would have benefited from reflection more deeply rooted in the Christian tradition and at least a modicum of critical engagement that is not afraid to question (a la David Dark) both Christian faith and American culture.

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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