Mark Buchanan generously provides us with an excerpt from his upcoming novel David.
This section deals with Saul’s daughter, Michal, who would be given to David in a marriage that would end unhappily.
The subject of this excerpt is not David though, but Samuel, the prophet who had a very complicated relationship with her father.
I’m looking forward to this because Buchanan is a wonderful writer, and, as you’ll see he’s not creating extra detail, but using a narrative to bring out understandings gleaned from the biblical text.
This is different from his previous works, and I’m curious as to how it will work out.
I’m on the record as mocking historical fiction based on biblical characters, but I trust this author.
My first remembrance of my father was of his wondrous tallness. Even after I had become a woman, and he was old and worn by his own accumulation of years and misery, he loomed. He was always thin, even when in later years a little sack of stomach, like a smuggled idol, bulged beneath his tunic. But he was never thin in the way some men are, brittle and gangling, ivied with vein, vulnerable to windgust. My father’s thinness was like a judgment against other men’s excess, their indiscipline. His tallness he bore like a vindication.
I recall looking up from the ground upon his great height. Perhaps I was four. Literally, to me, his head was in clouds, swarmed with sky and thunder, defying heaven. Even then he was distracted, fretting at some shadow, something that only he saw or sensed. I loved him the way daughters love fathers, simple and complicated, full of hope and anger. And once in a while he would turn his full attention to me – I was his momentary obsession – and it terrified and exhilarated me altogether, as if one of the hill country’s legendary giants had deigned to make me its personal doll. He would take me in his lap and move his face so close to mine I felt the rasp of his beard on my cheek and could smell him, muttony and sour, though his hands smelled like he’d been forging metal, smoky and oily and acrid. He spoke in a low soothing voice. It had the thinnest edge of menace.
“Do you want to know how I became king?”