Review of a quirky memoir

A year or so ago I read nearly twenty books for a feature article in the Christian publishing trade magazine. That’s a lot of reading, even for a self-confessed bibliophile such as me. In the midst of all those words, the ones that stood out to me were those in Dallas and the Spitfire, the story of an unlikely friendship. Why? Because the author’s unique voice came through so clearly. His writing style is easy and engaging, and his footnotes are a fun place where he lets rip with wisecracks and asides. More importantly, the content is encouraging and thought provoking. For me the only negative was the shameless copying of the typeface/artwork of the similar hit book of a few years ago, Same Kind of Different as Me (although I tried to read that book and didn’t get very far, whereas I lapped up this one).

dallasSFThe main author here is Ted Kluck, a freelance writer in his mid-thirties who lives in Michigan in the States and inhabits a Christian Reformed subculture. He meets Dallas, a young guy in his early twenties who has experienced more of life than many have who are twice his age. But not all of what he’s lived through has brought life. His father introduced him to drinking at the tender age of eight, and he lost his virginity at ten. He became a hardened drug addict, living a precarious life on the edge, fuelled by the desire and need to fund his habit. His actions led him to jail, and then eventually into a Bible-based rehab program. It was here when he first met Dallas.

Their friendship is that of father to son, mentor to mentoree, friend to friend. Men seem to communicate best shoulder to shoulder, so their shared project of restoring an old European car gives them the excuse to hang out and do life together. Ted helps Dallas in his first year as a Christian as he navigates the strange waters of a fundamentalist Bible college, survives heartbreak over a romantic relationship, and manages to stay clean and off of drugs. Dallas in turn helps Ted, a neophyte when it comes to car restoration, to bring life to the old British Spitfire. And more than just car repair, he brings joy, hope, and the reminder through his changed life that our God is really able to do more than we could ask or imagine.

A great read. My eyes admittedly glazed over at all the car descriptions and a few of Ted’s sideabout ramblings, but overall the story of the two’s friendship made for compelling and even compulsive reading.

Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, An Ex-Con and an Unlikely Friendship, Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke (Bethany, ISBN 978-0764209611)

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