A habitual drifter and a college basketball star tell concurrent stories of how they are lost, alternately destroyed and hopeful, as they try to figure out what to do with themselves, what's the point of it all, and what if they never figure it out? Set in northern Idaho, the title of the book is from a James Tate poem, "Manna," which describes a moment of ineffable beauty and reassurance. In the voices and experiences of Aaron and Syd, we hear and feel something that is clearly familiar, and yet so difficult to capture and recognize.
In this work, the author demonstrates that this story, the quest to ascribe some type of meaning to yourself and your life, is really the only story that has ever existed, and that each one of us, from the first sentient caveman to the last post-apocalyptic survivor, is possessing and directing a localized version of this same story. To execute this purpose, throughout the book is placed threads of themes, details, and characters from some very old very well-traveled shared stories, specifically archetypal hero stories, from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, to the Babylonian and Mesopotamian myths that both Bibles are based upon.
Readers familiar with any of these sources will recognize the satanic and angelic forces tugging at the protagonists' souls, the shrouded curses and augers, the bolts of vengeful wrath and beams of benevolent favor. These epic shadows are woven into the sometimes decrepit lives of the earnestly seeking, but imperfect protagonists, in order to represent the ubiquity of the collective quest.