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
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.