Sunday, October 16, 2005


I've been reading some good books lately. This one stands out.

Book: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
Author: Christopher Moore
Published: 2003

You know the drill. Christ was made flesh and came to earth in the form of a man, blah, blah, blah. What nobody's ever asked is, "How much like a man was Christ?" Enough to have a best friend. This is their story.

In a book that was probably challenged, protested, and censored even before it came out, the Son of God is called Joshua (his name in Hebrew), and his best friend is Levi, called Biff because that's the sound that was made when his mom smacked him upside the head. Which happens a lot, because even though Biff is best friends with the Messiah, he's got all the human frailties that Josh has escaped. Our intrepid narrator is obnoxious, perennially horny, disrespectful of just about everybody, and the best friend Josh could have had.

Of course, Biff knows Josh is the Son of God. He's just not that impressed. He's had to break this guy out of a wine amphora, after all. But he'd follow his friend anywhere, including to the East to find the Magi, back to Galilee, through the three years of preaching and meteoric fame, and to the foot of the cross itself.

What impressed me most about this book (besides the fact that it's hilarious) is that even though Christopher Moore has written what some would call a blasphemous and disrespectful book about a very human Jesus Christ, he doesn't descend into parody. There's a lot of slapstick and silliness, yes. But I got the impression that Moore has lot of love and reverence for his characters, which shines through and makes this not just a funny book, but a touching one as well.

The ending feels like a let-down, but it's not as if Moore could really deviate from the source material. Pick it up for the laughs, or the thoughtfulness, or just because it's so different.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Am the Messenger

It's been awhile, hasn't it? Like Counterfeit Son, this book has been hanging around waiting for me to blog it. Begging piteously, in fact.

Book: I am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Published: 2005

Ed Kennedy is pretty much a loser. Working as an underage cabbie, he goes home to a tiny shack and a really smelly dog. The love of his life prefers to be friends. Even his mom doesn't have much use for him.

Then one day he gets an ace of diamonds in the mail, marked with three addresses and times. His task--to go to those addresses at those times, meet the people there, and change their lives.

How he's going to do it is up to him.

This odd and thought-provoking book is structured around the four suits of playing cards. From the ace of diamonds, Ed goes on to clubs, spades, and hearts, each with a strange and nonsensical task that causes him to connect with at least three more people. From replacing lightbulbs in Christmas lights to sponsoring a meet-the-priest day for a struggling church (the key - free beer) to finally getting up the guts to face the love of his life, Ed's tasks ask more and more of him, in different ways. And from perfect strangers to his nearest and dearest (who may be the strangest of all), he gradually adds people to his lonely existence.

Gritty in patches, sweet in others, this book is very readable, if you don't mind some rough language. The ending, and the explanation for why and how Ed is getting all these cards, is a bit too clever, but the book's overall message about connecting to other people is well worth hearing.