Author: Christopher Moore
Publishing Info: Harper Collins, 2002
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to be more creative in how I review books. This time, I’m writing a love letter to the author because I have a super huge crush on his writing style, ideas and sense of humor.
Dear Christopher Moore:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
- You make me laugh. Out loud. A lot.
- You make me think.
- You are irreverent but in a respectful way—not an easy one to pull off but you manage to do it.
- Despite all the joking, you manage to inject true moments of emotional truth and human kindness into your books.
- You are playful and imaginative.
- You are kind of cute from what I’ve seen of your author photos.
Well, let’s not get carried away here or Mr. Jenners will begin to wonder.
Why am I writing this love note to you? Well, I read what must be your magnum opus, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. What audacity to write a Fifth Gospel—and to have it narrated by Biff, the inventor of sarcasm and a sex fiend! It must have been a tricky balancing act to be that irreverent yet respectful at the same time. Yet you did it! I bet you sometimes wondered if you were going to be able to pull it off and if the type of people who protest movies like The Last Temptation of Christ would protest your book without reading it.
It is a shame if people choose not to read this book because of your reputation as a prankster, a wit, and a satirist. Because this book is not only well-researched, conceived and executed, but it make someone who has turned away from organized religion (me) rethink one of the central figures of her childhood—Jesus Christ. (I’m glad you chose to call Him Josh in the book because that name—Jesus—is so loaded, you know?) I loved how you managed to retell the story of Jesus in a way that got His central messages across yet made him very very human. It made Him come alive for me in a way that was relatable and real. (But I still can’t put His name in lower case letters. Old habits and years of Catholic school are to blame for that.)
Your idea to write a Fifth Gospel to fill in the gaps that exist in the New Testament—the time between His birth and when His ministry begins—was inspired and brilliant. I love that you chose to have Josh/Jesus track down the three wise men who visited him in the manger. That journey and His subsequent exposure to the religions of the Eastern world made a lot of sense. I loved seeing Him practice yoga, learn the art of meditation and seek enlightenment like the Buddha. By tying His young adulthood to an exploration of other religions like Buddhism and Hinduism made a lot of sense. Much like my grandmother began to believe that The DaVinci Code was a non-fiction book, I began to buy into your theory that Jesus spent his early years exploring other great spiritual teachers and practices. It just makes sense! And when He reaches the end of his journey and distills what he has learned into a radical new way of thinking, I felt a renewed respect for His teachings.
Biff would have hated how things surrounding Him have gotten muddled. In my opinion, too many people seem to have forgotten what His central message was about: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The fact the virtually every religion in the world has some form of this Golden Rule just adds credence to your concept of having Him learn and incorporate aspects of the Eastern religions into His teachings.
I also love that you made Mary Magdalene (Maggie) such an important character in the book. I think she’s gotten a bad rap over the years so it was good to see her presented in a more reasonable and human fashion.
But let’s talk about Biff. It was a stroke of genius to have His sidekick/best friend/companion be this amazingly fun, sarcastic, bawdy character—the perfect foil for Him. I love how Biff brings Him down to earth. Biff’s good-natured ribbing about the whole mustard seed analogy and fishers of men was priceless. I love how you used Biff to let your imagination go wild. The section about the Kama Sutra was hilarious. When Biff and Kashmir try the positions of “Rhinoceros Balancing A Jelly Donut” or “Distracted Tiger Hacking Up a Fur Ball,” I was giggling like a fool.
You really outdid yourself with this book, and I sincerely wish everyone with an open mind and a sense of humor would give it a try. Books like this don’t come along often in life and should not be missed. I think you summed it up perfectly in your Author’s Blessing at the start of the book:
If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it.
If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil.
If you seek an adventure, may this story sing you away to blissful escape.
If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions.
All books reveal perfection, by what they are or what they are not.
May you find that which you seek, in these pages or outside them.
May you find perfection, and know it by name.
To me, you achieved perfection with this book. Five stars, Mr. Moore, and a permanent spot on my list of favorite authors.
Why and Where I Got The Book
I got the book from Paperback Swap because I’m in love with the genius that is Christopher Moore. No giveaway this time; I’m keeping my copy!