I’m reading! I know I haven’t been writing a ton (outside of reviews), but it’s been a busy few weeks and I’m trying to keep my head above water. Luckily that includes keeping my pace and continuing with my book selection.
Earlier in the year I read Christopher Moore’s The Serpent of Venice. I loved it so much I’ve practically sang about it from the rooftops on a fairly regular basis. One day a few weeks ago, I was chatting to my cubemate (and bestie pre-being cubemates!) Chris, and casually mentioned how I thought it was the best book I’ve read all year. I think he’d heard this before, but he went with it anyway. When he realized that the Christopher Moore I was loving was the same Christopher Moore that wrote his favorite book, well, he got pretty excited. Chris (bestie, not author) wheeled back his chair and grabbed a book from his desk and said “here, you have to read this.” The book was Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Ironically enough, a college friend had commented on my Serpent post and had said this was his favorite book, as well. Not one to ignore signs from the Universe, I put the book in my bag and have working through it since.
Despite Chris’ claim that this was the funniest book he’d ever read, he did warn me I might not agree. And he had a pretty good reason. While Chris is a fairly devout Catholic, I am, at best, what you would call lapsed. I have my beliefs regarding the Bible and Christ and all of that fun stuff, but I also don’t really show my devotion in the normal ways, such as, you know, going to church or reading the Bible. I took his warning, and dove into a religious world I never quite thought I’d see.
Interestingly enough, when reading this review I read a quote from Mr. Moore himself that he doesn’t enjoy reader reviews so much because it’s distracting. To that I say: so sorry! but I liked your books so I’m going to talk about why! Hope you understand. 🙂
REVIEW: Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Plot: Levi, who is called Biff, of Nazareth has been raised from the dead by the Angel Raziel some 2,000 years after Jesus walked the earth, was crucified, and rose again. Without much explanation, Raziel tells Biff it’s time for him to write his story – what happened in the years Jesus the Lord Savior was growing up in Israel? – and gives him the gift of tongues. As Biff writes his gospel, we also get to see his discovery of the New Testament. Also, Jesus’ real name is Joshua.
Most Memorable Line(s): “If the Lord had meant us to sail, we would have been born with, us, masts.”
-This novel has a plethora of quotable material. This one, though, is so cute as well as hysterical. Didn’t you ever feel that way when you were little and learning to swim? That if you were really meant to, you’d have fins or something? The ocean is a scary place, and kudos to Moore for highlighting that even if you travel with the Messiah new things can still be uncomfortable and scary -especially when you’re young.
Also a must-mention: “Blessed are the dumbfucks.” Because, obviously.
What I Liked: There is so much about this book that I enjoyed. SO MUCH. First off, this book is funny. It’s not as funny as Serpent, in my opinion, but that’s likely due to my familiarity with that source material in comparison to this one. What I really loved in this was that Moore was able to dive into the really philosophical nature of religion, Christ, God, and the meanings of friendship, belief and sacrifice, all while staying hysterical. To a non-believer, this is just a funny way of talking about roughly 30 years of a dude’s life. To a believer, reading this stuff, I think, can really validate your beliefs. Even when being mocked (with all due respect), the idea of Joshua’s miracles makes your heart flutter. If you already believe, what would make you stop? This book deals with Eastern traditions and religions – including kung fu, Lao Tzu, Hinduism and Buddhism – along with Judaism as well. I LOVE that. Every religion connects to another if you look closely enough, and I was really glad Moore brought that to light. The strength is this novel, honestly, is not the core info of Joshua and what he has meant to the world over the past 2000 years. It’s compelling, sure. But the strength is that Christopher Moore wrote this. I honestly don’t believe another author could have created such a compelling narrative, one that both complements and contrasts and challenges its inspiration and source material. And while Biff is no Pocket, in my personal opinion, I think it could be rightfully argued that Christopher Moore is like a fine wine – getting even better as he writes more books. As Biff invented my favorite language – sarcasm – I guess I’ll have to give him a pass for some of his less than funny moments. Also, without spoilers, I truly loved how this book ended, both in the Epilogue as well as what transpires right before the Epilogue. I thought it was so… true. True to the story, true to the outside narrative that already existed. It was the right way for the story to end in both sections.
What I Didn’t Like: There’s no shame in admitting I’m a hopeless romantic. It pained me to see how much hurt Biff entertained simply in his love for Maggie and Joshua. It was probably the point, and in my logical brain I know that, but did you really have to make Biff suffer so much?! He just wanted some love. That sounds like a lame thing to dislike, I know, but it’s partially because there isn’t much to dislike about the book – most things I dislike is because I’m not extremely knowledgeable about the source material. And although I just talked about how much I liked the ending, I wish I got a little more out of that final Judas and Biff conversation. It felt a little haphazard and didn’t necessarily give me the info I wanted. But I guess that’s how it was meant to be, sigh. Also, this book did confirm (can a fiction book confirm?) my personal thoughts that so much about the Bible and Jesus’ actions are hypocritical, and that’s something I have a hard time getting over, personally.
Grade: 8/10..because of my hopeless romanticism and at times disinterest in /unlikeabilty of the source material. At the end of the day, though, this book was funny and had a great message: be nice to people, you assholes.