A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
But I gotta say, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is pretty good. I’ve always preferred it when Miller’s spiritual memoirs end up more like nonfiction novels. I enjoy his ability to tell a story. I suppose that’s what made A Million Miles so good for me; the whole thing is about story. Miller’s witty writing style and Scrubs-like fantasy interruptions made the book an easy and enjoyable read. I’d recommend you go pick it up, grab some Star Crunches and a box of tissues, and settle into the couch with your Snuggie.
There was one thing I didn’t like about the book, though. And this one thing really bothered me. Miller encourages his readers to get out of the house and to live better stories. He recounts his own recent adventures climbing mountains, kayaking river valleys, and riding a bike across America as anecdotal inspiration. He describes some of the incredible people he met on his journey, and at times, he seems to nearly idealize them as the epitome of what the life he describes. What bugs me about all of this, romantic as it all is, is that these people are all wealthy Americans. They have the time and luxury to take extravagant vacations all over the world to do some admittedly awesome things. I wonder how well Miller’s audience will be able to relate to the ideals of living a good story when most of the examples imply a lifestyle well beyond the means of many.
That being said, I don’t think Miller intended these implications. In fact, in the book, he offers several stories that are more… well, affordable. But such adventures don’t get nearly the coverage as the lavish vacation homes, the opportunities to ride motorcycles across the Middle East or climb mountains in Peru, or friendly relationships with world leaders. Having read the book, I’m just not sure that many people could give up the time and drop the cash that Miller seems to imply make a good story. For as much as he decries the American systems of advertising and convenience, he occasionally seems to buy into the idea that money can buy one a good story.
Despite this, it’s a wonderfully fun book. I’ll leave you with my favorite passage, which comes near the end:
Before I learned about story, I was becoming a fatalist. I was starting to believe you couldn’t feel meaning in life because there wasn’t any meaning to be found. But I don’t believe that anymore. It’s a shame, because you can make good money being a writer and a fatalist. Nietzsche did it with relative success. Not personal success, mind you, because he rarely got out of bed. But he’s huge with twenty-something intellectuals. He’s the Justin Timberlake of depressed Germans, and there are a lot of depressed Germans (p. 247).