In August, Missoula-based writer David James Duncan released “Sun House,” his first novel in 31 years. “Sun House” is a 776-page epic about an “unintentional menagerie” of people who become intertwined, each with a specific knowledge of the world that links Sanskrit to Buddhism to character-invented “Dumpster Catholicism” and the semi-monastic 17th century community of Christian Beguines, among others.
The immense text builds world theologies and historical movements into a narrative framework that moves the characters toward a higher consciousness. The vast amount of research, exploration, and time spent with fellow practitioners, as Duncan acknowledges in the book’s meaty bibliography, could explain the 31-year gap between this novel and his last.
“We need our consciousness to raise if we’re going to survive as humanity,” Duncan told me for an interview with Montana Free Press. “I didn’t want to editorialize even once. I wanted to show people, in the moment, that they’re having a consciousness-changing experience. And this novel is a compendium of those kinds of experiences.”
In the book’s acknowledgements, Duncan describes his desire to create “descriptions of what this consciousness looks, feels, tastes, sounds and lives like … with the love, truthfulness, and justice they demand.”
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