by Richard Propes, Goodreads
At the young age of 67, Indianapolis-based writer Robert Springer has crafted his first novel.
It was worth the wait.
“The Organ Pipes of the Soul: A Theodicy of Love and Reincarnation in a Desperate Afterlife” is a metaphysical beast, simultaneously simple and straightforward yet immersive and complex in its layers. You can practically feel that these characters have been sloshing around in Springer’s brain for years, their reasons for existence well thought out and even their most minute actions well grounded. “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” is, to be perfectly honest, both remarkably entertaining yet also filled with so much thought and spiritual exploration that it practically demands that you set it down and chew on it for a bit before continuing on the journey.
The truth is, and this is more than a little snooty, if you don’t know what the word “theodicy” actually means I’d dare say that “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” is not for you. While the book tells an engaging and entertaining story even for those who’ve never once contemplated the vindication of God, “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” will prove most rewarding to those who spend their days contemplating life, afterlife, the existence of good and evil, if God is real, and what life really means. This book asks heavy questions and yet, somewhat surprisingly, provides rather simple answers.
Because, yes. Sometimes, we make it harder than it really is.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve often contemplated the questions asked in “The Organ Pipes of the Soul,” questions arising out of life experiences ranging from significant disabilities to the death by suicide of my wife and child to serious childhood traumas and a myriad of other life experiences that have often led to those around me looking at me and saying “How do you still believe?”
The answer is, quite simply, “Because I do.”
In many ways, such is the journey with “The Organ Pipes of the Soul,” a story about one amnesiac gent named Arthur. Arthur washes up on the Isle of the Dead, a happening followed by his recovery of memories revealing that he is responsible for much of what happens here and, as of now, much of what is going wrong in this place.
Yet, there is much more for Arthur as it is also revealed he has spent 30 lifetimes moving to and fro a love, personified by Elle, that is worth 30 lifetimes.
Of course, there is Elle. Elle is a pianist “back home,” who arrives on the Waking Shore unsure if she should commit to reincarnate precisely because Arthur has broken her heart before and that break lingers.
Arthur and Elle are far from the only characters here. The one with which I most identified was Coyote, a woman who wakes up in the afterlife with a hole where her heart should be. She has never belonged anywhere or to anyone. Indeed, she awakens in the afterlife unsure if she belongs even here. She soon realizes she is essential to its renewal.
From The Writer to The Storyteller to Mr. Sinclair to Millicent to Bruno and even a dastardly dragon, “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” is filled with intriguing characters you will likely visualize and fully experience. Bruno, for my money, is among the most enchanting.
The truth is that to describe “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” more fully would be both challenging and unfair. You’ve likely already decided if this book is one for you and it’s worthy of your investment. It’s a demanding read, this I openly say, at 500+ pages and filled with universal theological and spiritual concepts and demanding of attention to its language, ideas, imagery, and often lengthy monologues of thought and reflection. It’s most certainly not a book for everyone, occasionally seeming to meander only to run smack dab right into the middle of the point.
It almost feels as if Springer himself has committed 30 lifetimes to constructing the ideas and beliefs that serve as the foundation for “The Organ Pipes of the Soul,” lifetimes spent wondering about God and people, faith and reason, and this strange thing we call love.
It’s as if, I suppose, we spend our lifetimes on a journey toward becoming who we already are.
“The Organ Pipes of the Soul” is a unique yet rewarding literary experience. Springer refuses to compromise his literary vision for these characters and their individual yet universal journeys. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, “The Organ Pipes of the Soul” isn’t necessarily the type of book you find atop the bestseller lists yet for those who commit themselves to it it will likely be a book reflected upon for years to come.