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Lamb by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is one of those great "finds," a satirist in the mold (loosely) of Tom Robbins and Doug Adams, with a touch of John Irving's sense of irony and a kind of bullish irreverence that (to religious fundamentalists) would probably come off as extremely offensive and shocking. Lamb is the first book I read by this excellent writer, however, he has written several others, all of which I immediately went out and bought, and all of which were great! Lamb, however, is still my favorite. It centers on the lost years of Christ as seen through the eyes of his childhood pal, Biff (the original inventor of sarcasm and of the martial art specifically designed for boys from Nazareth: Jewdo). A Hollywood pitchman might describe it as a sort of a Jewish Forrest Gump. meets Another Roadside Attraction.

As with my discovery decades ago of Irving's The World According to Garp, I happened to be scanning some new stuff at the bookstore, when I came upon a title that intrigued me: Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings (I'm a sucker for bizarre titles). I had never heard of Christopher Moore, but after reading the flyleaf and finding that he had written a satire on the lost years of Christ, I decided on that one for my initiation.

It's hard to say a lot about this book without wanting to reveal a blow-by-blow description of its sweeping progression, historical (Biblical) accuracy, and sensible contemplation of the challenges that Josh (Jesus / Joshua) would have faced. So I have decided not to try. Instead, let me provide a quote from a close friend; a student of world religions and respected scholar, whose world travels and life experience encompass and hold in reverence, not only the spiritual dimensions of human existence, but its scientific and historical aspects as well. In her spare time, Pauline Masterton is also an accomplished poet, and here is what she had to say shortly after I sent her a copy of Lamb:

"Wow! I was almost a quarter of the way through [Lamb] and I had to stop myself from gobbling and rushing through [the rest]. Chris's treatment has a little of the flavor of Tom Robbins, but his style is not so extravagantly grandiose -- more self-deprecatingly colloquial. The deep and subtle stuff is couched in throwaway lines, and the satire, which on the surface seems shamelessly irreverent, manifests and evokes an awareness of how difficult it would be to have the burden of a Messianic mission. That is, being fully human, capable of suffering and temptation, but also possessed of awesome powers.... with the responsibility -- but no blueprint -- for fulfilling a mission that is being revealed piecemeal. And with companions like Biff and Maggie devoted to him (but humanly so) he is still subject to all the weakness that flesh is heir to. The scholarship [Biblical accuracy] is also just right, as is the "high concept" and the clever dual plot and settings, especially with that "gift of tongues" trick. I am recommending this book and will be sending copies to several people."

I could not have said it better myself; in fact, I could not possibly have said it as well. And, no, I am not going to tell you what that "gift of tongues trick" is. Such a revelation would only be another giveaway, and I do not intend to give away much here. As for "Maggie," if you can't figure that one out, you need to retrieve that old dog-eared Bible (I assume you have at least one) and go a few rounds with it before you tackle Lamb.

Regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack of same), if you are possessed of an open mind, coupled with a sense of humor, an appreciation for the absurdly possible, and some level of curiosity about the mythical Christ, this book will take you to places of imagination you never knew you could go. Oh, and one last thing: if you are easily offended by a little profanity and sex, don't bother with Lamb. It is far too real for the uptight reader.

Lamb by Christopher Moore


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