August 19, 2011

Baaaa

Several weeks ago, I finished my second read for the Year of Reading at Your Mercy challenge (Karen’s pick) : Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Now, I’m finally going to write a bit about it.

In short–I loved it. Adored it. I don’t re-read many books, but I will probably re-read this one someday. Many thanks to Karen for picking it for me, for while I’d been lured by Christopher Moore covers for ages, I doubt I would have read any of his books any time soon. I’m a slacker. (That’s what I love about this challenge!)

Lamb is the story of Jesus’s life told by his best friend, Levi, aka Biff, who is resurrected into our present day by an angel of God specifically for the purpose of writing his gospel. (For as we all know, Biff was left out of the other ones.) The story has two settings–a present day hotel room (and thereabouts), where the angel holds Biff hostage so he can finish writing, and the time of Biff’s gospel, which tells of Christ’s boyhood in Nazareth and the friends’ journey (there and back again) of enlightenment on which they gather the good news for their fellow Jews.

Lamb amazes me for two reasons. One: It is hilarious. (Although it is grossly irreverent–just saying, in case that kind of thing bothers you.) I’m not sure I’m brave enough as a writer to be funny like Moore, but I aspire to be. Two: It’s not just hilarious. It’s moving and visceral, and through this piece of fiction, I’ve come to a new perception of Biblical times and of Jesus’s human struggle as the Messiah. I remember feeling the same way after watching The Last Temptation of Christ years ago. I don’t remember the movie at all really, but I remember thinking it was helpful to see Jesus as such a human, that it made everything he went through more relatable.

Like I said, the story is irreverent. How can you juxtapose the story of Christ’s life and so much humor (raunchy and otherwise) without being so? Yet, Joshua (Jesus) is not the flagbearer of the raunch. Biff carries the lion’s share of humor, although, he’s not just a clown. Biff is smart. (He discovers gravity, and evolution, and he invents sarcasm.) He loves hard. In a previous post, I mention a scene in which Biff carries a lamb for Passover but can’t go through with the sacrifice. I adore this scene. It will stick with me. Biff’s love is not as perfect as Joshua’s, but it is beautiful nonetheless. I loved reading through his eyes.

I could say more, but I hate spoilers. I’ll just end here with a thumbs up.

2 comments

Wendy, I’m so glad you enjoyed Lamb! You hit on a lot of things that made me love the novel as well. I agree that there is something about Biff’s beautiful and unique perspective that makes the book so moving. The scene that sticks with me is the final one in Biblical times, which I won’t describe for the sake of those who have not read the book.

It is, as you said, irreverant. Of course, as Moore says himself at the end, if Lamb shakes someone’s faith that probably says more about his/her faith than it says about the book. :)

by Karen on August 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm. #

Yes! That scene gets me too.

I really liked reading all the notes Moore made at the end, and I don’t usually take time to thoroughly read those.

If you haven’t read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I recommend it to you.

Thanks again!

by wendy on August 22, 2011 at 12:43 am. #