A James Morrow Late-Night Double Feature

In which I review not one, but TWO books, both by James Morrow.

Bible Stories for Adults

A series of short-ish stories always makes for an interesting review. The first story, “The Deluge”, was great, (It won a Nebula, it would sort of have to be!) but I have to admit I felt a bit mixed about some of the rest of them. I suppose I was expecting something more like Lamb, however one should really not go into something with expectations like that. The parody/alternate history stories like “Deluge”, “The Tower” and “Abe Lincon at McDonalds” will leave you wondering “what if”, and the philosophical stories like “Assemblage of Kristin” and “Diary of a Mad Deity” will leave you wondering what just happened. You know, in that good way where you aren’t quite sure where you are but you feel like the trip to get there must have been quite fun?

Some of the stories feel like you probably need to know the actual bible story. I’m not sure “Soap Opera” would be as good if you didn’t know the story of Job. Most of them though require no previous knowledge. The Covenant, probably my favorite story in the book, is an interesting analysis of the ten commandments and what the world might be if they had not yet been made public. “These rules are not worthy of you!”

Every one of these stories is thought provoking. Did I enjoy them as much as I thought I would based on the reviews I’d been given? Sadly no, as I was expecting more Christopher-Moore-slash-Tom-Holt style writing. I was left feeling thoughtful, but not like I immediately needed to read again to understand whatever it is I missed. Based on these stories I would say there is one thing James Morrow knows how to do exceptionally well: get his point across.

I would definitely recommend reading. I may even re-read someday. For now though, I think I know someone who will quite enjoy this book, I think I’ll give it to them!

Towing Jehovah

The plot is explained in the first few pages thusly:

“Our mutual Creator has passed away,” sad Raphael with a sigh compounded of pain, exhaustion, and grief.
“God Died.”
Anthony took an involuntary step backward. “That’s crazy.”
“Died and fell into the sea.” Raphael clamped his cold fingers around the tattooed mermaid on Anthony’s naked forearm and abruptly drew him closer. “List carefully, Captain Van Horne. You’re going to get your ship back.”

So… What happens when god dies, his corporeal form falls into the ocean, the angels are literally dying of despair, and the vatican’s chief particle physicist goes riding on a supertanker captained by an infamous tanker captain out to the body? This book has it all, angels, bi-planes, cruise missiles, warped reality, and a recipe for Dieu Bourguignon.

I think perhaps Morrow’s pacing takes a bit of getting used to, but boy is it worth it. Ever asked yourself what happens to the world when god dies? More importantly, what happens to people when faced with incontrovertible proof that the god they may or may not have believed in is dead?

Believe me, the ending is worth it. Well, the almost ending. I really do think it’s Morrow’s pacing that throws me off. The extra bits make the world believable, but sometimes it feels like they lessen the impact of what he’s telling you. Once again though, I feel like I GOT? it. I know what he’s saying, I understand, and I’m not sure reading it again would do much more for me. Maybe that’s good in a book sometimes, but I’m really rather fond of that feeling that I should pick it up again and see if I can squeeze just a little more out of it. I don’t think I can however, and while I may read it someday in the far future, I think my plan for this one is once again going to be to give it to someone who I think will also enjoy it.

“Have you even waltzed naked in God’s navel Tom?”