The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years -- except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more -- except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala -- and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.
Topics: Israel, Parody, Funny, Adventurous, Irreverent, Jesus, Christianity, Friendship, The Bible, and 21st Century
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And it did at times. The explanations around bunnies at Easter and how turning the other cheek originated were great. However, the middle dragged and I become very annoyed with Biff. Some funny is good but when everything a character has to say is a sarcastic remark, tied to sex or profanity, it feels one dimensional. I give Moore props though for taking a really, really tough subject and wringing humor out of it. Somehow I think I would like him in person; he strikes me as open-minded, tolerant and unique. I may try some of his other books just to see if there is a connection.more
with naughty descriptions galore.
But Josh's pal Biff,
was really quite spiff.
And now I am left wanting more.
(Translation for folks whose gift of tongues does not include Limerick-ese:)
Lines 1 and 2 = This is the story of the life of Jesus (aka Josh), but Moore has outdone even Ted Turner's most outrageous colorizing job. If you like Monty Python humor, then you'll probably find it terribly funny, as I did.
Lines 3 and 4 = If you can get past the biblical connection, this is a fantastic story about the adventures of two boys (Josh and Biff) who find/make their way in the world. Through shared experiences (and even through ones that they do not share), they build a friendship that makes the ending absolutely heart wrenching. It didn't matter that I knew what was coming...I was devasted when the moment finally arrived.
Line 5 = And then Moore threw me a bone at the end. It was the act of a kind soul. I look forward to my next Moore read. May it be another wild and wooly roller coaster ride that brings me back home feeling breathless and smiling.
For completeness, I am including the notes that I made as I read:
Ch 1: Clever and funny in the style of Good Omens, which was released about a decade earlier than this book. Wonder if Moore intended Lamb as a spinoff/variant.
Ch 2: Now that I've gotten acclimatized to the clever humor, I'm starting to notice a wistful undercurrent. Does Moore share my embarrassment for being a foolish optimist who dreams that we all might learn to get along?
Ch 3: This book is a study of extremes, the way it flip-flops between cozy details of daily life like baking bread, then over to profane behaviors like sheep buggery. Not sure if Moore just wants to keep the reader off balance to make us more susceptible to his outrageous jokes, or if he is asking us to consider the arbitrary nature of cultural rules. Guess I'll have to swirl the glass and take another sniff...
Ch 4: I'm convinced that two stories are simultaneously being told here. The carrier story is about the humorous adventures of two boyhood pals who learn to find/make their way in the world. Beneath that carrier story is the real story, the one that a foolish wit would have written outright. Moore instead plays a witty fool who hides his real tale, like the prize in a treasure hunt. (Oh boy!)
Ch 5: Before reading this book, I thought that I had been religiously cavalier in my own novel for doing things like casting Lucifer as a shrink and defining angel-dom as...never mind. My point is that I don't even wiggle the needle on the Moore Naughtiness Scale.
Ch 6: I have begun wondering...If I met Christopher Moore, would his style of speech sound like Biff?
Ch 7: Moore is a skilled storyteller. I'm getting captured by the characters and plot. And not because they are biblical/historical figures. I like Josh, Biff, and their families and friends. (Not Jakan, of course.)
p. 117 Can't stop for each chapter now, I'm on a roll. But I did want to mention one thing: I had been wondering what this story might have been like if Moore had toned down the naughtiness to make it more palatable to more people. I've decided that the tale would have felt watered down...and I prefer my Scotch neat.
p. 119 Biff: "He was going to kill you." Josh: "It happens. He didn't understand. He does now." I love this story!
p. 120 Moore was/is a Mel Brooks fan. (See the Balthasar/Blucher interval.) How did I not foresee this?
p. 123 Wherein the archangel Raziel is hoist on his own ego-petard...seriously, who among us has not suffered that one? (Liar)
p. 127 Please ignore these updates. (I need them to write reviews because I have no memory for nitty-gritty details.) Biff: "Wouldn't it be funny if you weren't the Messiah? I mean if you abstained from knowing a woman your whole life, only to find out that you were just a minor prophet?" Pretty well sums up my youthful fear of following the arbitrary path defined by society.
p. 147 The archangel Raziel suddenly reminds me of my husband in his TV control obsession. (Sorry honey...good thing you don't belong to goodreads.)
p. 154 Quoting Lao-tzu...this story is giving me so many flashbacks.
p. 185 Josh: "What does the Tao value above all else?" Biff: "Compassion? Those other two jewel things?" Josh: "No, inaction. Contemplation. Steadiness. Conservatism..." And here I thought Tao was about acceptance...once again, I feel like Biff.
p. 199 Biff thinks: ...we had studied Confucius, whose philosophy was little more than an extensive system of etiquette. (Speak efficiently, Biff. The whole system could have been replaced by the well worn parental exclamation, "Be nice!")
So glad Part III is over. Felt like I was suffering from time dilation. (Personal fault: I have no patience for recycled jokes.)
Part IV was no better. Admittedly, the focus had moved to mocking India/Buddhism, but it feels like the same joke. I get it: Religion and culture are arbitrary, and all cultures demonize sex while loving to wallow in it. (If Part V has the same theme, I will be seriously tempted to smite myself.)
p. 287 Well, Biff. I think I can answer your question as to why the other gospels neglected to discuss Josh's life between infant-hood and 30 years. That interval was not sufficiently interesting because it did not involve deep connections to loved ones. Glad to have you guys back home.
p. 306 Love the bunny scene.
p. 334 Good summary, Biff.
p. 353 The tone has shifted. I feel Josh's death looming now...
If you are easily offended by the thought of Jesus saying some bad words don't read this book; he doesn't do it often, but, really Jesus is portrayed like any kid with the exception that he knows he is supposed to save us. Thus, at times, Jesus lives vicariously through Biff. Jesus can't have sex? Well, that won't stop him from encouraging Biff's exploits and then hearing about it afterwards. Likewise, Jesus can't persue an earthly relationship with Mary Magdelene - so Biff does in his stead. I won't spoil how that works out but you can be certain Biff can't live up to Jesus.
The story is told as if Biff were writing his own book of the Bible, though with much more modern language and, for the most part, the tale revolves around Jesus and Biff seeking out the three wise men who visited Jesus' manager when he was a baby. Each wise man has some stuff to teach Jesus (and Biff gets his own lessons along the way) until, finally, they return for the fateful day where Jesus is captured, then crucified and dies.
I know, Jesus rises from the dead 3 days later - Biff's story doesn't get into that but it does tell you what the "H" stands for in Jesus H. Christ.
Overall this was a fun read but not as good as I had hoped. While parts were funny I can't think of any laugh out loud moments; something I was expecting based on all the cover blurbs.
This collection of stories about Mars reminded me of Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. But where Burroughs entertained with adventures and action, Bradbury expounded on various themes, mostly anti-war and anti-establishment.
The science in this fictional work played bit parts, merely a vehicle to get to a theatre of operations far removed from old Earth. A place where scenarios about preserving nature and archeological sites had paramount value. A place where minorities could start anew without the yoke of their oppressors dragging them through the dust. A place where the past could be preserved at the expense of Martian sanity.
Rockets and atomic radio epitomized the Earth technological achievements. The Martians were vulnerable due to their telepathy and inward focus. Even less believable was the travel time to and from Earth -- unrealistically short considering the vast distances and plotting the different orbits of Earth and Mars to take advantage of launch windows.
I skimmed many of these stories, I admit. I was either bored or frustrated. Some of them shine, like the tale about Spender and the one towards the end of the collection about the house running on autopilot. Otherwise, I'd sooner forget I read them.
The story is told in the first person by Jesus Christ's childhood friend Biff, and it is absolutely funny. The story of Jesus's life from birth to 30 years of age is not documented, so Biff is resurrected by an angel and told to write his story of Joshua. And surprisingly, although Moore pokes fun at everything, it does not seem offensive.
* mild spoiler*
There is a bit of a lull in between due to a bit of predictability in the story line when Joshua and Biff reach India in their quest to realize Joshua's purpose of being a Messiah. As soon as I read that they were going to India, I thought they would have to deal with Untouchables, Kali Worshipers and... learn about Kamasutra (Needless to say, last one only applies to Biff).
But all said and done, this might be the funniest book out there. And I should tell the obvious that this is a total work of fiction.
And although it is written purposefully in a totally nonsensical way, the feel is not lost. The end will make you blithely melancholy. Yup, the last statement is an oxymoron, and that's what makes this book one of my favorites.