Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blasphemous Book Reviews I: Towing Jehovah by James Morrow

James MorrowTowing Jehovah (B+)

I was originally going to open this review with "what this author lacks in writing ability he makes up for in big brass ones," but as I went on, I found neither statement to be true. Early on, Morrow drenches his prose in far too many bad similes ("eyes scintillating like twin Van de Graf generators" and such), but he does finally catch a groove with it, and by the time I got to the protagonist's sardonic captain's log, I found myself chuckling with some regularity. And some of the jokes and puns are ridiculous enough to be good. A bookish priest chasing after a bunch of debauched apostates, begging them to remember their Kantian imperative, that's funny stuff. As far as the brazenness is concerned, I guess it's there, I mean what with the gigantic dead body of God floating in the ocean, presented eventually with all its warts and pimples, and defiled with regularity--driven on, towed by its earbones, eaten by sharks and by a desperate crew, burned, rotted, drained of blood and torpedoed. Horrible as all of that sounds, Morrow pulls off something that's more of a madcap romp than it is biting satire.

And that's really the problem--okay, my problem--with Towing Jehovah, it's the utter lack of spite in the thing. The book posits the factual existence of God, and by consequence, the veracity of all the rest of the stuff in the popular Judeo-Christian mythology. A variety of ideological blowhards are assembled to have their philosophies shattered on the bluffs of the floating Corpus Dei, and it's all great fun, but the observation that God tastes more like Chicken McNuggets (you know, for the masses) than filet mignon is about as sharp as the satire gets. Under it all is a secular humanist body of morals that's left in the wake of the ones long ago imposed on stone tablets. Instead of getting angry at a creator that holds his wreck of a creation responsible for itself, Morrow plays all these inconsistencies up for laughs.

Lucky for him, I like laughs, so the high grade is maintained.

(Mark Twain's pen digs less deeply but wounds far more. More on that next, whenever I get around to it.)


LentenStuffe said...

Hi Keifus,

Just limped in. I'm afraid the body's all broken and bruised. Got a woppin ass-wuppin' from ThyGoddess over at the BOTF and have been seeing 40 shades of black 'n blue ever since. 'Twas vicious. But I'm alive ... Still.

Read your review and loved it, especially this clause: A variety of ideological blowhards are assembled to have their philosophies shattered on the bluffs of the floating Corpus Dei. Wow! That's sublime, my friend. A very informative piece indeed.

Best to You and Yours.

Keifus said...

Hey, that's nice. Thanks for the kind words. You can butter me up all day. (I'm pleased enough you read it!)

I didn't follow that one for very long. By the time I saw it, it'd already gotten too brutal for me. I'm good for a little pith, but not so much the vinegar.